Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tricia Dykers Koenig, "Because of Scripture and Theology": The soul of the Church at risk-part 3

My posting, Tricia Dykers Koenig, “Because of Scripture and Theology": The soul of the Church at risk-part 2, focused on five of Koenig’s nine “overarching themes” which she believes will keep Christians from “treating LGBT persons as defective or less-than.” Reminding the reader that her article, on the Covenant Network web site, is about replacing G-6.010b with amendment 10-A and that she is equating not ordaining LGBT people with considering them defective, I will look at the last four themes and Koenig’s conclusion.

6. Peter and Cornelius [Acts 10-11], where the real subject of the vision about clean and unclean is not food, but people: “What God has called clean, you must not call profane … If God then gave them the same gift that God gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?

Koenig begins this theme, with an error. This text is not first about people but about what God has done through the death and resurrection of the eternal Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus in his death and resurrection allowed food that was considered unclean by the Jewish food codes to be called clean. But humanity, whose nature is sinful, must be made clean, reborn, given the righteousness of Christ. And God’s free gift is for all those who are called.

God called the food clean, through the work of Jesus on the cross; he would call the repentant and believing Gentiles clean. In doing this God did not declare that anyone’s sin was clean, rather he forgave them their sin. Peter’s end to his first sermon to the Gentiles is:

And he [God] ordered us to preach to the people and solemnly to testify that this is the one who has been appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. Of him all the prophets bear witness that through his name everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins. (Acts 10: 42-43)

God has the prerogative here; the food is clean by his word because of Jesus Christ: sinners are given righteousness, forgiveness and transformation. We live by Christ who is not sinful by nature. We are united to Christ and in him keep walking away from sinful lifestyles.

7. The gift of the Holy Spirit

This is really part of the theme above. But the inference is that God would not give his Holy Spirit to those he does not approve of. But the Holy Spirit is given not because of approval of any person but because of the work of Jesus Christ. The Church leaders at Jerusalem state to Peter, “Well then God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”

This is God’s work and the approval rests simply on Jesus Christ and his righteousness. Surely God has not chosen me because of my selfishness and hostility toward him, but because he loved me. God does not bless sin but rather forgives it, and at a great cost.

8. God is love

Yes he is! Micah 7 states:

Who is a God like you, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of his possession? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in unchanging love.

Here, In the passage where the above verse is found, the text speaks of God casting our sin into the depths of the sea forever. God’s love is most beautifully known in the Incarnation and the death of Christ on the cross for our sins. As Paul in Romans states, “But God demonstrates his own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. (5:8)”

Because of that love God calls all of us, as his people, to walk in holiness. Paul goes on to encourage believers to put away their sin because of their new life in Christ. “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness but present yourself to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. (6:12-13)”

For the church, the implication of the fact that “God is love,” is that she must keep calling the sinner to repentance with God’s love shaping her viewpoint and attitude. Condoning sin for the sake of perfect love is a caricature of Christian ethics.

9. All members of the Body of Christ are needed, gifted, and valued

Yes, but not all are yielded to the Holy Spirit, the Lordship of Jesus or the authority of God’s word.

In Koenig’s conclusion she attempts to deal with the nature of God, seeing correctly God’s love in Jesus Christ. She points to Jesus’ emphasis on the law that fulfills all of the law in Matthew 22:36-40, paraphrasing it as “love God with our whole being, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.” While insisting that this does not mean ‘do anything you want because of love’ she does give a psychological twist to the verses. “It means that Christ calls us to follow the course that is most conducive to individual and community well-being.”

With this thought Koenig slips right past the first most important commandment. That is, loving God with our whole being. The love for self becomes quite different as believers begin a life of attempting to love God with our whole being. The goal, and it happens as Christ through the Holy Spirit starts changing us, is to glorify God with our whole lives. (This will never be finished until we are eternally with Jesus) Therefore the way we love our neighbor, as we love ourselves, will also be set within a desire to love God. Our desire will be that our neighbor be changed and transformed, also loving God with their whole being.

Such love does not always lead to individual and community well-being. It leads to eternal well-being but too often to emotional and physical suffering. Jesus’ grace was not only costly to himself, it is also costly to those who follow him. We do not buy what God has given through Jesus Christ; our righteousness belongs to Jesus. But if we wear his righteousness we find, the flesh, the world and the devil demanding retribution which is a price. We pay it as we faithfully, and joyfully, follow Jesus, paying obedient attention to his words.


Presbyman said...


Thank you for your well thought out engagement with progressive/revisionist arguments about how the church should understand and respond to human sexuality. I appreciate the time and trouble you are taking about this.


John Erthein
Erie, PA

Debbie said...

Excellent analysis of and refutation of Tricia Dykers Koenig's arguments!