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Bishop’s election embraces deadly theology, Land says

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–When a last-minute allegation of sexual harassment threatened to derail the nomination of Gene Robinson as the Episcopal Church’s bishop of New Hampshire, Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land told ABC News that Robinson’s homosexual lifestyle should have already disqualified him for the post.

Appearing on ABC’s “World News Tonight” Aug. 4, Land said homosexual behavior is deviant behavior. “People who are engaging in sexually deviant behavior should not be in positions of leadership in the churches,” the president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission said.

The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops, meeting in Minneapolis, was poised Aug. 4 for a final vote on Robinson, who is openly homosexual, when news broke of an e-mail accusing the 56-year-old divorced father of two of inappropriate behavior. In a separate revelation, individuals critical of Robinson’s election claimed the website of a group he founded as a ministry to homosexual and bisexual youth contained links to pornography. A quick investigation cleared Robinson of wrongdoing and the bishops voted 62-43 to confirm Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire within 24 hours of the pause.

“In elevating a homosexual to be a bishop, the Episcopal Church is making the point it doesn’t consider homosexuality deviant behavior, but instead normal, healthy behavior,” Land said Aug. 5. “The Bible clearly teaches that homosexuality is not compatible with God’s plan for humanity.”

This controversy didn’t come to pass overnight, Land explained, saying it was merely a visible sign of a longtime decline of the Anglican communion in the United States, Great Britain and Canada. It is a controversy that has its roots in faulty theology and a wrongheaded view of the Bible, he said, noting the selection of a homosexual bishop is not a surprising development given the backdrop of a national debate over same-sex marriage and homosexual rights.

“Homosexuality is clearly a deviant, self-destructive lifestyle; it bears no resemblance in any way, shape or form to a heterosexual lifestyle,” Land said, despite those who seek to portray it as normative.

“This is not about popularity, this is about the clear teaching of Scripture,” he continued, saying the Episcopal Church, like many other mainline denominations, has “fatally compromised with liberal theology and a behavior which is the antithesis of Scripture.”

“The vultures of theological liberalism have now come home to roost in the mainline denominations,” Land said. “These Episcopal Church leaders are embracing the deadly theology that says parts of Scripture are inspired and parts are not.”

Land said the presuppositions that led to the bishops’ decision are straightforward: “Everything in Scripture is open to question and to debate, and we can stand side by side in dialogue with Scripture instead of being under the authority of Scripture.”

This stance holds that while the Bible is a divine book, it is just a book nonetheless, Land continued. “Once you accept the presupposition that the Bible is just a human book and that you have to separate the divine inspiration from the human element which is flawed because that element is bounded to the culture and time in which it was written, it is a short jump for the Episcopal communion to have its first openly homosexual bishop,” he said.

But this is not the view Jesus took of Scripture, Land said. “If we are going to follow Jesus, then we must follow His understanding of Scripture. He put Himself under the authority of Scripture.

“Are we going to put ourselves under the authority of Scripture, or are we going to fall prey to the enticements of the devil to put question marks at the end of God’s sentences?” Land asked. “Churches that have departed from the faith of our fathers and that have departed from the apostolic faith have cut themselves loose from the moorings of Scripture and are now adrift on every sea of doctrine, carried along by every wind of cultural depravity. They have no anchor, but now they do have a homosexual bishop.”

These faulty presuppositions have infected mainline denominations in North America and led to their precipitous decline, Land said, noting the Episcopal Church in America has lost 28 percent of its membership since 1961, while Bible-believing denominations have flourished. The Southern Baptist Convention has seen a 59 percent growth rate during the same period, he said.

The Aug. 5 vote to confirm Robinson will lead to more dissension in Episcopalian ranks, Land predicted, noting a 1998 conference of Anglican bishops from around the world voted 526-70 that homosexuality is incompatible with Scripture.

Anglicans outside of North America and Great Britain are steadfast in their opposition to their denomination’s embrace of homosexuality, Land said, explaining, “This behavior is contrary to crystal clear biblical teachings and it will be seen as terribly destructive to their evangelistic efforts in their own cultures where homosexuality is looked upon with disfavor.”

The Bible notes that in the last days there will be many who come and who will have a form of godliness but who will deny the power thereof, Land said. “As I’ve watched what has happened at the Episcopal conference this week, I could not help but think of Jesus’ response to the church at Laodicea as recorded in the third chapter of the Book of Revelation. Jesus said this church was neither hot nor cold but lukewarm and that He would spew them out of his mouth.

“To the extent the people of God challenge His teachings and disobey His Word all in the name of God, He sends judgment upon them, and His glory departs from those traditions,” Land said. “Many Episcopalians who are true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are going to have an anguished decision to make,” he added, suggesting Robinson’s election would lead to an even more fractured Episcopal denomination.

    About the Author

  • Dwayne Hastings