Saturday, September 9, 2017

Open Letter to the Writers and Signers of the Nashville Statement.



Dear Writers and Signers of the Nashville Statement,

I write this in the love of the Lord Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit with the intention to exhort and rebuke those who would redefine the holy institution of marriage so that they would come to repentance. It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit would guide your hearts and mind to the truth of Christ and that you would consider the concerns of those who defend the truth of marriage as a representation of the Gospel.

I have read the articles of the Nashville Statement in their entirety and I was nodding my head in approval to nearly everything you wrote in the Preamble. There is no doubt that this statement was intended to clarify the position of Evangelical Christians on the definition of marriage as one man and one woman for life to an ever-changing culture of increased sexual perversion. I was entirely convinced that the last paragraph in the Preamble was necessary in expressing such a noble statement of sexual ethics.

“We believe that God’s design for his creation and his way of salvation serve to bring him the greatest glory and bring us the greatest good. God’s good plan provides us with the greatest freedom. Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it in overflowing measure. He is for us and not against us. Therefore, in the hope of serving Christ’s church and witnessing publicly to the good purposes of God for human sexuality revealed in Christian Scripture, we offer the following affirmations and denials.”

The problem all believers should have with the Nashville Statement leans more in what Evangelicals REALLY believe about marriage and the underlying hypocrisy surrounding this manifesto. It is my hope that those who read this letter would understand the eternal consequences surrounding those who redefine marriage. It is also my hope that the Holy Spirit will quicken the spirit of those who may or may not have realized the error of their ways so that they would come to repentance and receive the abundant grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The first article deals with the simplistic message that God has defined marriage from the beginning. The Lord Jesus Christ makes special notes of this (Mt 19:4-6; Mk 10:6-9) to a group of people (The Pharisees) who believed there was certain loopholes which offered a husband to divorce his wife.

WE AFFIRM that God has designed marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church.
WE DENY that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship. We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made before God.

My question is that if you truly believe that the first article magnifies God’s design for mankind than why is there not an article which condemns divorce and remarriage?

Or
, why not state in the first article that there are loopholes in certain instances which make marriage a contract?... But that would deny that marriage is a covenant would it not?

If it was necessary to express the truth of sexual ethics and define marriage according to God’s design, why not tell the whole truth? It makes no sense to this reader to accept the statement if it does not include an article that terminates the thought that a one-flesh covenant marriage can end in any other way than death. This Nashville Statement (NS) also makes me see why many unbelievers reject this offering since it reeks of hypocrisy. But I already know the answer some of you will give to me…

You will quickly point to the articles of divorce and remarriage in the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCOF) rather than point to what the early church, or even so, what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul wrote about marriage. If there are loopholes as you believe, why were they not presented in the Nashville Statement? It makes no sense to write the first article without expressing the terms of where divorce and remarriage came to be. If marriage is a covenant as you say that God says that it is, then why not include the WCOF’s “exception clause” (Mt 19:9) and the Pauline Privilege (1 Cor 7:15) in this statement?Or is it simply because nearly every Evangelical has long since capitulated on marriage since it is common place to divorce and remarry for any reason?

Then there is article 10…

WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.
WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.

Is it sinful to approve of divorce and remarriage to the point it constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness? If there are loopholes to divorce and remarry, how do you explain this with the language offered in the NS? The Lord and Paul make it quite clear that all remarriages after a divorce are adulterous unions (Mt 5:32, 19:9; Mk 10:11,12; Luke 16:18; Ro 7:2,3) and NOT marriages in the Lord (1 Cor 7:39). Paul makes it quite clear on the commands that he received from the Lord, that a husband is never to divorce his wife, and a wife, if divorced, is to remain unmarried or reconcile to the husband…. reconcile to the husband, (1 Cor 7:10,11) not "ex-husband"...her HUSBAND.

Perhaps the greatest threat to marriage is the contradictory words of the WCOF and this new rendition “marriage redefinition” to article 14 of the NS itself. If “the Lord’s arm is not too short to save and that any sinner is beyond his reach”, how than are there loopholes to divorce and remarry?

WE AFFIRM that Christ Jesus has come into the world to save sinners and that through Christ’s death and resurrection forgiveness of sins and eternal life are available to every person who repents of sin and trusts in Christ alone as Savior, Lord, and supreme treasure.

WE DENY that the Lord’s arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond his reach.

The WCOF speaks to the contrary…You know the article on the WCOF’s about marriage and divorce…these articles are your treasure in what you REALLY teach about marriage….in particular the last sentence.

WCOF on marriage and divorce article IV- Adultery or fornication, committed after a contract, being detected before marriage, giveth just occasion to the innocent party to dissolve that contract. In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce, and after the divorce to marry another, as if the offending party were dead.
WE DENY that the Lord’s arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond his reach.

Does this exclude the sinner within a one-flesh covenant marriage? YOU MUST ANSWER THIS QUESTION!

If both the Lord and Paul calls all marriages one man and one woman for life, why would the Lord allow “loopholes” if you deny that the Lord’s arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond his reach? The law of marriage is one man and one woman for life…you state this in the first article of this Nashville Statement…yet the WCOF says it is lawful for the innocent part to sue out a divorce, and after the divorce to marry another…as if the offending party were dead…What do the last sentence in the Westminster Confession of Faith’s article IV. on marriage and divorce…”as if the offending party were dead”…and …The last sentence in the last article of the Nashville Statement …” WE DENY that the Lord’s arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond his reach” ,have in common?

Perhaps there is the power of the Gospel in what the Lord and Paul teach about marriage. Perhaps the grace of God is required of the “innocent” party to remain under the provision and power of the Lord in obedience to His commands since it can be determined (And has been determined by those marriages which have survived EVEN after adulterous affairs) that the Lord’s arm is NEVER too short to save AND that any sinner is NEVER beyond His reach.”

The Gospel is at stake in this Nashville Statement just as marriage is at stake. If the homosexual or transgender experience the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ, he or she will never remain in their sins. They will know that marriage is one man and one woman for life as they will know this since they have the mind of Christ. So too do those who have vowed in one-flesh covenant marriage.

You cannot simply write another manifesto on marriage and sign it without ever repenting of what you believe about divorce and remarriage. It is hypocrisy! This NS has no power coming from men and woman who believe civil paperwork and hollow “remarriage” vows suddenly make “adultery” a marriage in the LORD. In fact, the only people permitted to sign this statement are the men and women who remain in their vows of covenant even after men and women like you “remarried” their covenant spouses to another.

I am somehow convinced that this new statement, not unlike the Manhattan Declaration, is an attempt to stem the tide of the coming persecution to religious liberty…rather to the persecution of Christianity. We do not wrestle with flesh and blood…The problem is that this statement totally considers that divorce and remarriage are already compromised within the Christian circles and it would make no sense to add to these articles on what John the Baptist died for. It would seem to me that this is an article to those who fit the description of Sodom and Gomorrah rather than to those who have long since compromised to the leaven of Herod.

I personally cannot sign this hypocritical statement since most of the initial signers have not fully repented of what they believe about divorce and remarriage. Besides, the Bible clearly declares that marriage is a representation of the Gospel (Eph 5:31,32) and WCOFs and Nashville Statements are unnecessary. If there were any necessary additions to align this NS to the Bible, I and others who hold true to the teachings of our Lord on marriage would have added to the 10th article after the words “WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve” the words “remarriage adultery” and would be worthy of the signatures to express the true definition of marriage as one man and one woman for life. No excuses, no exceptions.

It is my belief that many of the signers of this statement paper have done more to redefine marriage from article one than they will ever care to admit. Thus, it is my purpose as a blood-bought believer to defend the truth of marriage against those who have long since redefined marriage. It is also my responsibility to rebuke and exhort those who call themselves believers of the Lord and deny His true definition of marriage.

In conclusion, your only real choice is to repent on what you believe about divorce and remarriage, and make amends to this NS, or any future marriage manifestos that divorce and remarriage no longer have any bearing on one-flesh covenant marriage… as defined from the beginning (Gen 2:24; Mt 19:4-6; Mk 10:6-9). This requires a humble and contrite heart as well as a renewed commitment to right the wrongs of every single “remarriage” you performed. It also requires a renewed effort to teach and preach that marriage is, and will always be, one man and one woman for life…this side of the Lord’s coming. Then, and only then, will you have the power of the Holy Spirit behind your signatures.

May these words condition the heart for an abounding love of Christ and a life filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit…for presenting the power of Gospel and in witnessing to the world the love of Christ through the committed love of a husband for his wife… as Christ loves His bride….one man and one woman…till death do we part.

I AFFIRM that Christ Jesus has come into the world to save sinners and that through Christ’s death and resurrection forgiveness of sins and eternal life are available to every person who repents of sin and trusts in Christ alone as Savior, Lord, and supreme treasure.

In Christ’s love,
Neil Novotnak

Sunday, September 3, 2017

A Defender of Marriage Reaction to the Nashville Statement



And then there is the Nashville Statement penned by the CBMW.ORG …This is the new offering the Evangelicals who want to reaffirm what they believe the Bible says about God and marriage…Reaffirm? ...” adopted by a group of evangelical Christians seeking to reaffirm traditional Christian values on sexuality”.-Dr. Albert Mohler

“Evangelical Christians at the dawn of the twenty-first century find themselves living in a period of historic transition. As Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian, it has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being. By and large the spirit of our age no longer discerns or delights in the beauty of God’s design for human life. Many deny that God created human beings for his glory, and that his good purposes for us include our personal and physical design as male and female. It is common to think that human identity as male and female is not part of God’s beautiful plan, but is, rather, an expression of an individual’s autonomous preferences. The pathway to full and lasting joy through God’s good design for his creatures is thus replaced by the path of shortsighted alternatives that, sooner or later, ruin human life and dishonor God.” -Preamble of the Nashville Statement



I personally cannot help to believe that the Reformers have done their very best to paint themselves into this sexual ethic corner…or as they put it…” historic transition.” The signers of this great undertaking want us to believe that it is necessary to expand on what the Bible already clearly says about marriage. And yes, the definition of marriage is truly necessary at understanding sexual ethics. But do these signers, these men and women of honorific “titles” really understand the definition of marriage?


I say, NO!

If not for the Westminster Confession of Faith and the writing on marriage, divorce, and remarriage, we would not need this latest and greatest manifesto of sexual ethics. It was around this time, shortly after the Protestant Reformation, that these same types of “leaders” thought it was necessary to hand marriage (and sexual ethics) over to the civil authorities. May I suggest that the single greatest danger to God’s design of marriage came from men who created Pharisee type loopholes by fleshy eisegesis of scripture…, Matthew 19:9 and 1 Cor 7:15 come to mind…again. I say Hebrews 13:4 speaks loudly to those who teach that a divorce ends a one-flesh covenant marriage so that one can “remarry” in an Evangelical church….



Most of what we see by the way of transgenderism and homosexuality spurns from homes fractured by divorce and remarriage. In fact, very few are afraid to get married anymore since it requires such couples to remain so until death...and that they do not want to experience the pain of divorce since many who do not marry have parents who have divorced. So, the thought is that these “leaders” of the Evangelical world can institute a plan that “somewhat” resembles repenting of letting marriage definition slip from their fingers…The thought is to put his new statement in place and buckle down on teaching and preaching that marriage is God’s design…not man's design! Really…


There were some Evangelicals who “kind of” thought on the same lines as I do…

"In the interests of getting more to sign the Nashville Statement, it might be advisable for the framers of the Nashville Statement to add a sentence, possibly an Article, that confesses Christian complicity (in the aggregate) in failing to keep God's standards for sexual ethics (premarital sex, pornography, divorce-and-remarriage; some would also add contraception), thereby leading to the present predicament. I don't think that there is anyone among the initial signatories who thinks otherwise."
-Dr. Robert A.J. Gagnon Facebook post


Then there is a fine article from standerinfamilycourt who more than understands the deeply flawed family court system and the  capitulation of Evangelcals of marriage...and might I add one who has the right to sign such statement as this... - “Hey, Here’s a Novel idea. Let’s Have Everybody Sign a Manifesto on Sexual Ethics”

Of course there is backlash from the left side of Christendom…those false believers who support homosexuality…which Dr. Mohler added…


“The backlash to the Nashville Statement shows why it is so needed: While the Christian church has held to a normative understanding of biblical sexuality for over two millennia, we now face challenges to biblical teaching that require an unprecedented level of specificity. It affirmed what would have been universally acknowledged as the historic Christian faith without question or controversy until just the last several years.” -Dr. Albert Mohler The Washington Post



Rather Dr. Mohler I believe it is an attempt of Evangelicals to “repent” of their lack luster efforts in teaching and preaching the truth of marriage and offering church discipline (Mt 18:15-17) which would defuse most sins that harm marriages. These Evangelicals obviously felt that something had to be done…but should there be more? I believe so, and it will require humility beyond most would care to endure since their very livelihoods are in jeopardy. 


Let’s start by reading the first article and ONLY the first article…If you want to read all of the articles and read all the signers names you can do so here…Nashville Statement

Article 1.

We affirm that God has designed marriage to be covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and His bride the church.
We deny that God had designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship.  We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made before God



At first glance, it appears that the first article is simple enough to understand…that is until you consider the many positions of divorce and remarriage in evangelical churches. Lifelong? That is if you have a church position paper which allows divorce and remarriage for “this” reason and “that” reason….but not “that” reason. In fact, most pre-nuptial church positions papers allow divorce for certain reasons which said individuals believe are far beyond the control of an Almighty God.


Then there is the idea that “weddings” are a church thing, but divorce is not. When was the last time you saw a body of believers conduct church court to settle the disputes of sins within a one-flesh covenant marriage of professing believers? Did not Paul instruct the Corinth church to handle the things of God in house? (1 Cor 5 and 6) Instead we have civil courts litigating divorce proceedings by corrupt lawyers and judges, and the church becoming a non-factor…sad.

The truth is that most Evangelical churches do make marriage into a contract becasue they allow both divorce and remarriage. There are several names on the list of signers who would not fail to "remarry" a divorced person...My question is always the same....What right or what power gives these men the freedom to declare vows of marriage when they are vows of adultery? 

"We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made before God"...


The sad truth is that many of these "clergy/leaders" believe the current "clergy/laity" system is the church model of Acts. That would be a whole separate issue to deal with, but few will admit that the current caste system is the problem. If we were to stand solely on the definition of marriage, this Nashville Statement falls flat on its hypocritical face based entirely on the very first articles and what most these "signers" believe about divorce and remarriage.

In conclusion, the authors and signers can only present this statement with eternal value if they would repent of ever believing a one-flesh marriage can in end any other way than death. In fact, the ONLY people who have a right to sign this statement are those who love like Christ and remain true to their vow of covenant until death do they part. The ONLY "clergy" who have any right to sign this statement are those who teach and preach that marriage is one man and one woman for life...no excuses, no exceptions. Otherwise, this Nashville Statement is nothing more than a lie from Evangelicals who have long since capitulated on the definition of marriage.

Mark 10:6-9 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.




In Christ's love,

Neil
 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Pastoral Ministry and Remarriage-Two Pees in the Pod of Ignorance







I recently read an article from CCC Discover entitled “5 Things You Should Know About Your Pastor”.  Even before I read the article, I began to consider the definition of “Pastor” and how this would apply to the points made in the article. This is not unlike marriage. Whenever you mention the word “Marriage”, what comes to mind? Some will say “one man and one woman”. Some will say “an institution derived by humankind for the betterment of society”. Some will say marriage is just a social construct available for two people (regardless of sexuality) who love each other and want to share a lifelong bond. Regardless of the many definitions, it is obvious that marriage has multiple definitions that may or may not be all together truthful.



If you read this blog you will see that the Bible defines marriage as one man and one woman for life (Gen 2:24; Mt 19:4-6; Mk 10:6-9), and that the whole of Bible is a reflection of Christ’s love as depicted in the ceremony of marriage. Marriage can only end in death and is easy enough for a child to understand. There is no confusion in this definition, and those who adhere to this definition understand that the solution in understanding difficult marriages is the solution of understanding the things of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.



If you read this blog you will also understand that the greatest threat to the definition of marriage is by those who call themselves “Pastors”. These “Pastors” are the same men and women who have redefined marriage simply by believing their titles give them the power to do so. So, what comes to mind when someone says “Pastor”?

The word pastor means “shepherd” and comes from a letter by Paul to the Ephesians.

(NIV) Eph 4:11 -13 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.



If you notice in verse 11 that Paul says it is the Lord Jesus Christ gave a plurality of people for these roles in the body of Christ. What we should determine if any of these roles require additional training then what was already given by the Holy Spirit. Also, we must determine if these verses are a foundation of what we have today. Is there a plurality of shepherds in the local body of Christ, or is there just one man who was appointed by a process of ordination because he or she has special instruction from a bible college or seminary? 



If you read the New Testament (NT) while under the influence of the Holy Spirit, you must and will question the validity of the current clergy/laity system of most evangelical churches. There is no place for this separation of clergy and laity in the NT. There is no such reference to ordination, vestments, church buildings, sermons, seminaries, or titles that we find in most evangelical and reformed churched today. In fact, prior to the Protestant Reformation, there is no indication in the NT that the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) was the order of things for the body of Christ. In fact, there is very little difference in the polity of the RCC as compared to the Reformers since they merely replaced the titles of Priest, Bishop, and Pope with Minister, Vicar, and Pastor. 


The very fact that these men pull a salary is an indication they are “hired” by men rather appointed by the Holy Spirit. This recent article by CCC Discover not only exposes these points, it also questions why would ever believe them in the first place. Why would we replace the clear instruction of elders and succession of elders in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 with the current hireling system which separates believers by “clergy” and “laity”?



 The article lists five things you should know, but I question the understanding of the definition of pastor….

Here are five things you should know about your pastor. (And if you can’t find any of this information about your pastor, or you can’t ever meet the head pastor, then it’s probably time for a new church.)”



I immediately ask what is the significance of a “head pastor” as compared to a “regular pastor”? Perhaps the author neglected to apply the capitalization of the “p” for us to determine that Pastor is a title rather than a position filled by Christ. We see the first question has assuming that “pastors” must have formal training form a seminary of Bible college.



1. Where did my pastor go to school?
“I realize that a seminary education doesn’t automatically create a good (or even decent) pastor. In some cases, it can create a monster, and if that has been your experience, I am deeply sorry.”


I would argue that EVERY seminary creates a monster since there is nothing in the NT that indicates men or women are to have formal “training” of any kind…as if the Holy Spirit would not give us significant power to equip the body but a seminary does??? I want to be very clear and say that there are very good and well-meaning men and women who have went through four, five, or ten years of seminary training and Bible college, BUT… a very big BUT! There is nothing in the NT that gives credence to their titles. Nothing! So, when I say there is men and woman who love the Lord and who believed they were “called” to be a hireling, they are only lying to themselves since there is no “calling” to be a hireling anywhere in the NT.

These men and woman were called into believing a lie. This has very significance to when they think it is in their power to administer vows of marriage, as if they have the power to bond a man or woman in a marriage after either man or woman divorced a living spouse if covenant.  The very fact that their vocations are not a part of the body of Christ should give you an understanding as to how these clergy have misrepresented marriage.

The article then asks these questions under question 1…

So ask some honest questions:

  • Is my pastor trained enough to know some of the most significant heresies and controversies in the history of the church?
  • Does he know basic principles of interpreting the Bible?
  • Can I trust him to care for my soul in the same way I trust a doctor to take care of my body?

If your pastor does not recognize that his or her profession in not the body of Christ, how can they recognize heresies? A pastor will only believe what he or she is taught by the professors of seminary, unless the Holy Spirit directs them otherwise. You will never hear from the seminaries or seminary presidents of those who dropped out of seminary or those who questioned the validity of the profession based on the Holy Spirit revealing that seminary is not necessary in equipping the body of believers. 


It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”-Upton Sinclair



What you will see is thousands and thousands of articles like this by “Pastors” which attempt to tackle the problems of pastoral ministry without tackling the root of the problem that being the system IS the problem. To quote Upton Sinclair again: It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”


There really is no reason to list all the questions of this article since it can be determined that the first question assumes too much which is already not the truth. If there is no such thing as seminary training in the NT, then why would we believe there are such roles as hireling pastors? Again, there are many “Pastors” who teach sound hermeneutics on many subjects and genuinely care for the flock they believed they have been led to lead, but this does not take into the consideration they have already compromised themselves by believing their vocation is called by the Lord. They have also joined the many Reformers who have compromised the definition of marriage. 



The truth is that many people have redefined the word pastor just as easily as they redefined marriage. The sad truth is that many assume that “Pastors” have the power to bond the marriage when that power comes ONLY from the Lord. The same ignorance of believing a Pastor can perform a ceremony of “remarriage” after one or both people divorced from a one-flesh covenant bond is the same ignorance of believing the Lord appointed pastoral ministry in the first place. Another lie is thinking your vow to remarry would supplant your vow of covenant. 

 

What is even more disappointing is the fact that men like Luther (a key proponent of the Protestant Reformation, and a key figure of retaining the “titles” of “Priest” by renaming them “Pastor”) simply handed marriage over to civil authorities. It was the Protestants writings of the Westminster Confession of Faith which redefined marriage and handed marriage to civil authorities that changed the course of history of marriage in the last 500 years. Same-sex marriage would never be an issue if Reformers would have repented of such lies…but here we are today…a nation of idolatry and adultery.



In conclusion, there is still hope for the Reformers and the authors of lies such as articles like these. The very same Lord they claim to serve is full of mercy and grace should these men of the cloth repent on what they believe about themselves and what they believe about marriage. A revival of this kind would require humility beyond understanding and that there would be a total repentance of “remarried adulterers” and a total repentance of men and woman who would dare to perform such evil ceremonies. This repentance would require these seminary professors to abandon their ungodly titles and to repent of ever thinking there was such a division of “clergy” and “laity”. 



I have long since offered the steps of repentance for these “clergy”and those who are convicted of their sin of adultery. I only pray that there would be more and more voices lifted to define marriage as one man and one woman for life…instead on one man and one woman at a time. If you are in a one-flesh covenant marriage…speak the truth! If you are waiting for the repentance of a prodigal spouse…speak the truth…if you are a “Pastor” who has seen the deception…speak the truth. Marriage is and always be a representation of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to deny this truth is to deny the Lord.



In Christ’s love,



Neil