Thursday, June 11, 2015

An Open Letter To Michael L. Brown

Dear Michael,

I believe every word you wrote (An Open Letter To Tony Campolo) to Tony Campolo was in the love of Christ. Your points were truthful, concise, and articulated, and you make it perfectly clear that compassion for the LGBT community must never come at the expense of what God’s word has to say in regard to the Gospel, marriage, and human sexuality. You also offered Mr. Campolo a chance to reconsider his “coming out” by offering him a chance to dialogue. But I would argue that  based on your position of marriage, you really have no authority to dialog with Tony Campolo.

I carefully read Tony’s coming out statement (Tony Campolo:For the Record), and what was most intriguing was the preceding paragraph to his closing remark. First, the closing remark...
“I hope what I have written here will help my fellow Christians to lovingly welcome all of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters into the Church.” ~ Tony Campolo

I believe you would agree with me that I personally can never call a professing homosexual a brother or sister in the Lord. The very language and lifestyle of “gay” and "lesbian” alongside "brother" and "sister" is not only contradicting, it is a direct insult to the Creator. The fact that homosexuality is a perversion to the very order of creation makes this parting comment a mere fallacy. The Gospel calls for repentance of sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and Tony Campolo’s new view ignores both.

This parting statement serves more as a warning and harbinger to come for those who disagree with this educated, spiritual social scientist turned theologian who believes he surrendered his life to the Lord at a young age. Perhaps Tony did at one time believe the Gospel, but the Lord did warn that there would be a falling away, and Tony Campolo would fit the bill for one who has "fallen away".

As stated, the one part of Tony’s “change of mind” was very evident in what he had to say in that last paragraph. Regardless of  his education, his leadership status, or the pleadings of his wife (more on this later), it is his view of the Lord Jesus Christ, and how Tony defines love, compassion, sin and discipleship that come into question. 
   “However, I am old enough to remember when we in the Church made strong biblical cases for keeping women out of teaching roles in the Church, and when divorced and remarried people often were excluded from fellowship altogether on the basis of scripture. Not long before that, some Christians even made biblical cases supporting slavery. Many of those people were sincere believers, but most of us now agree that they were wrong. I am afraid we are making the same kind of mistake again, which is why I am speaking out.”- Tony Campolo

Michael, I believe that Tony makes some very clear observations that not only reveal the truth of the problem, it also reveals the fact marriage redefinition is not a new idea. I will argue that divorce, remarriage, and egalitarianism contributed to marriage redefinition and that the destruction of the family occurred when men like Campolo embraced culture’s acceptance of feminism and no-fault divorce laws. Not to mention that the evangelical church “changed” marriage from one man and one woman for life shortly after adopting the traditions of the “Westminster Confession” incorporates abuse of scripture to provide loopholes to divorce and remarry.(more on this later) 

One could make a strong biblical case that egalitarianism is not what the Lord intended for the church, and that the problem lies in abuse of complementarianism more than it does in believing that God did not have specific roles for men and women. These were roles that provided humankind with the best way to glorify Him, rather then for our convenience, our glory, or to make us proud.

It is clear to me that Tony has fallen victim to his embrace of egalitarianism since his wife has forgone her command to respect her husband thus proving her disobedience to Christ. It was the Red Letters of Lord Jesus Christ who said that …If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)  Tony’s wife is not a disciple of Christ, and it appears that Tony does not love his wife enough to rebuke and correct her to what scripture clearly says about the perversions of same sex. Thus, I would conclude that Tony Campolo is not a disciple of Christ.

As for Tony's point on divorce and remarriage,  I passionately disagree with his assessment that scripture was the fault of the church rejecting the divorced and remarried. The problem is that the church “changed” their position on divorce and remarriage which in turn created problems such as we have today. The early church defined marriage as the example of Christ’s love for the church, and that post-resurrection marriage was one man and one woman for life. (Gen 2:4; Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:11,12) Divorce was not an option for a one-flesh covenant marriage of one man and one woman. If divorce was an option (1 Cor 7:10,11), remarriage was out of the question, simply because a “remarriage” is adultery(Matthew 19:9; Mark 10:11,12;Luke 16:18), and not a sanctified marriage in the Lord. (1 Cor 7:39)

It is not a matter of excluding the divorced and remarried from fellowship, it is more about the evangelical church  repenting of false teaching on divorce and remarriage, that is, the twisting of Matthew 5:32 and 19:9… Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 to include loopholes for the “innocent”. The Lord  gives no provision for the innocent, nor does He give provision for the guilty of divorce (Luke 16:18) He says that 'remarriage" is adultery if you divorce from a covenant spouse. This has more to do with disciplining the church on marriage definition, and how marriage is an example of the Gospel. This in turn has more to do with admonishing/correcting a spouse who will not repent, forgive, or reconcile where applicable in the covenant vow before the Living God. 

Marriage is God’s design, and church leaders will have to answer to Him for any deviation. Michael, the evangelical church needs to look at the real problem in marriage redefinition. The church needs to be accountable for the Biblical definition of marriage, and one-man and one-woman-for-life leaves no room for error. We have to understand that marriage is one of the most perfect representations of the Gospel. If divorce is an option, then the vow is meaningless. If we understood that a vow of marriage includes the Lord, we would understand that the Lord will sustain the vow. Any spouse who believes that he or she can break a vow of marriage, believes that God is not part of marriage.

I see that scripture points to marriage as a representation of Christ’s love for us. Two people vow to become one, knowing that they can never be two. Death is the only way to end a marriage, and that is because earthly death leads to everlasting life with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, it is eternally important to have an eternal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ as an individual, so when God gives you the grace to marry the spouse that He has for you, you will be ready to love them as Christ loved you….till death do you part.

This is an eternal love that is centered on the One who gave us mercy when we surely did not deserve it. If we love Christ like He loved us, we will be ready to truly love our spouse even if they should not love us. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can remain in covenant even in the worst of times. Divorce comes from a hard heart, and those who vow to God and believe that the Lord will not remain in covenant with those who remain in covenant, have either created a different god, or never believed in Him from the very beginning. 

Michael, I too am willing to dialogue publicly or privately with anyone on the subject of how marriage is one man and one woman for life; a reflection of the Gospel. I believe that Tony Campolo can truly understand marriage if he would only embrace the Gospel. But the evangelical cannot  defend marriage as God designed marriage until they repent on how they view divorce and remarriage. Otherwise Michael, you really have no authority to write a letter to a person who fails to understand marriage, when you do not have a clear understanding of marriage either.

Eph 5:31-32 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church

 Praise be to God!   

In Christ’s love,


Michael Brown said...

Neil, I just today discovered your open letter to me from last year. Thanks for writing it and thanks for the spirit in which you wrote it.

Neil Novotnak said...

Thank you for taking the time to read this Michael. There is a greater need than ever before to share the Gospel. We can do this without even trying by defining marriage, living out marriage, and defending marriage as one man and one woman for life. I pray the Holy Spirit moves this nation to repent of adulterous remarriages, abolish unconstitutional no-fault divorce laws, and remain in marriages for life. If with represent marriage, we represent the Gospel.