Robert Gagnon Responds to Thabiti Anyabwile
Thabiti Anyabwile has stirred up a bit of controversy with an op ed published by the Washington Post. In it he makes some rather serious statements concerning fellow evangelicals who differ with him on certain political issues.
In the interest of full disclosure, in the 2016 presidential election I voted third party for the first time in my life. I do not like Mr. Trump. I find his boasting, his personal life, and his Twitter wars to be highly troubling. I am also exceedingly thankful that Hillary Clinton is not the President of the United States. I am also thankful that Justice Kennedy is retiring during the term of the President who selected Neil Gorsuch to replace Justice Scalia.
Dr. Robert Gagnon has written a clear and thorough reply to Pastor Anyabwile which I believe deserves greater exposure. Gagnon is a graduate of Harvard and Princeton Universities. He taught New Testament for years at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary where he stood courageously for the biblical standards for marriage and human sexuality. It is fair to say that Dr. Gagnon has paid a price for holding to these convictions. He is also the author of THE definitive study of homosexuality in the Bible - The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics
Dr. Gagnon writes:
A Faustian Bargain Indeed
What a delusional and ill-informed op-ed piece this is by an Evangelical who claims to care a lot for the life of the unborn and for the male-female foundation of marriage ordained by God and self-evident in the material structures of nature. Not shy about criticizing fellow Evangelicals, he accuses those of us who voted for Trump to avoid the cataclysm of a Clinton presidency of being in league with the Devil (!), having “made a Faustian bargain for the mere price of a Supreme Court nominee," a bargain in which “the Devil gets the better end of that deal!” This injudicious language deserves the reprimand of every fair-minded Christian, not just Evangelical.
Thabiti Anyabwile "(MS, North Carolina State University) is a pastor at Anacostia River Church in southeast Washington, DC, and a Council member of The Gospel Coalition" (TGC). He even misses that this is not just "a Supreme Court nominee" but a chance to finally get a solid majority of SCOTUS justices who won't legislate from the bench left-wing positions on abortion and "LGBTQ" coercion of religious consciences (Kennedy was typically a swing vote for the Left on abortion and all matters "gay") This is arguably the single most important judicial pick in more than a century. Moreover, Rev. Anyabwile ignores the fact that this is Trump's second appointment of a SCOTUS judge (Gorsuch was a solid pick) and that Trump might get one or two more before his first term ends, and certainly 1-3 more if he gets reelected, thereby putting in place a potentially solid majority for a generation. In addition to this, Trump has appointed 41 other federal judges and has taken a number of presidential actions of his own against abortion, transgenderism, and "gay" indoctrination, and for religious liberty and free speech, as well as other issues congenial to most Evangelicals. So Rev. Anyabwile completely understates what is at stake.
It is bad enough that Rev. Anyabwile dismisses not as inconsequential but as relatively so the damage that can be done on the abortion front (i.e., relative to the issues that he cites), not only by keeping Roe intact and unchallenged but also by expanding the powers of abortionists into sectors of speech, mandatory indoctrination, and compulsory funding.
Worse still is that he completely ignores the even greater destruction of freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion through “LGBTQ” coercion. The great “sea change” issue in the country is the requirement that all bow down to the idol of homosexuality and transgenderism. And what does that idolatry entail? Oh, it entails a great many things that apparently has escaped Rev. Anyabwile's attention.
That agenda entails that children be coercively indoctrinated into the belief that anyone who does not support that agenda is a bigot akin to the most virulent racist; that children be confused as to their own sexuality with the increased risk of harm that attends “LGBTQ” identification; that colleges and universities become places for punishing free discourse about the subject on the claim that anything other makes pro-“LGBTQ” fanatics “unsafe”; and that schools lose their accreditation if they do not foster such ungodliness.
And that's not all, not by a long stretch. It also entails that people lose their employment if on social media (let alone in the workplace) they speak critically of “gay marriage” or fail to use the “preferred pronoun” and name of a “transgender” person who denies his or her biological sex; that males who have deluded themselves and others into thinking that they are females, but many of whom remain sexually attracted to women, be allowed complete access to the private spaces of women (restrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, showers, women's shelters) and to female sporting events (regardless of the mismatch) and that anyone who attempts to stop them from doing so be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law as a "civil rights" violation; and that the workplace, like schools, must be turned into places of heavy-handed indoctrination (brainwashing) into the ideology of homosexualism and transgenderism, instituting affirmative-action policies for immorality or otherwise be denied contracts or grants from the federal government.
And still we are not done. It entails that people with businesses at all connected with weddings (photographers, bakers, caterers, florists) and even some that are not (like T-shirt designers) be forced to use their artistic talents and write messages that express approval for intrinsically immoral “gay" agenda or else be fined tens of thousands of dollars (or more) and lose their businesses and even life savings; that businesses have to accommodate male employees who want to come to work dressed up as women, with a female hair-style and make-up; that bed-and-breakfast places in a private residence must accept persons having "gay" sex under their roof irrespective of personal religious beliefs; and that churches be forced to let their facilities be used for "gay weddings" or any "gay" or "transgender" celebration if they allow their facilities to be rented by anyone else.
Is Rev. Anyabwile even aware of the bill about to be passed in California that would make it a violation of the law to talk in an approving manner about changing not just one's orientation but one's behavior from "gay" to straight or from "transgender" to conformity to one's biological sex, so long as there is an exchange of funds, possibly including even the sale of books? And that this violation is not limited to professional therapists but includes pastors and other Christian leaders? Is Rev. Anyabwile this uninformed about the dangers Christians and other people of faith face?
I make no pretense to having created an exhaustive list of all the ways in which the "LGBTQ" coercion can affect our lives and the lives of our children, from cradle to grave. The possibilities are limited only by our imaginations. You can rest assured that "LGBTQ" zealots have unbounded imaginations for ways in which they can compel us all to serve their interests and ideology, against our religion and against our conscience. Their primary instruments for enslaving us are the executive and judicial branches of government. At the federal level it is the President who has the greatest influence on the shape of the judicial branch.
On what basis does Rev. Anyabwile deny these paramount concerns? For sea-change issues elsewhere? No, but only because he is upset with Trump’s travel ban for select (not all) Muslim countries that don’t properly vet for potential terrorists. Now, one can agree or disagree with whether Trump should exercise his power in this way. But the majority of justices, including Kennedy, were quite right that Trump was within his power as President to take such action and, moreover, that the ban was not strictly an attack on Muslim religion insofar as the ban took in only a small percentage of Muslims around the world as well as some countries that were not Muslim. That Muslim countries were hit hardest by the ban is hardly surprising in view of the fact that nearly all of the international terrorism is inspired by Muslim fanatics.
Rev. Anyabwile is also upset by Trump’s attitude toward “Dreamers,” seemingly unaware that there are about 150 million people around the world (per a recent Gallup poll) that want to become US citizens. The US simply can't accommodate everyone who wants to be here, which means that it must rigorously safeguard its borders. The Bible provides no support for the view that countries should do little or nothing to protect their borders against illegal immigration. Like many, Rev. Anyabwile misappropriates Jesus’ parable about the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31-46, which is really more of a missionary text than a social justice text. Compare the parallels with the Mission Discourse in Matthew 10 (esp. vv. 13-15, 40) and the earlier part of the Eschatological Discourse of which the sheep-and-the-goats text is part (esp. 24:9-14). Jesus is referring to a judgment on the nations for how well or badly they treat itinerant Christian missionaries that proclaim the gospel in their midst.
This isn’t just my understanding. Among those over the centuries who viewed "the least of these" as Christians or Christian missionaries are Origen, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli; among scholars of Matthew in the last half century, Ulrich Luz, Donald Hagner, Graham Stanton, Robert Gundry, R. T. France, and David Garland. Jesus' advocacy for inviting "strangers" (xenoi) into one's home in Matt 25:35, 38, 43 provides absolutely no support for illegal immigration. As an itinerant messenger of God in Galilee and Judea (and occasionally Samaria) Jesus himself was a "stranger" everywhere he went outside of Nazareth but not an illegal alien. Paul traveled throughout the Roman Empire, himself a "stranger" but not an illegal alien.
The Bible does indeed encourage Christians to obey the laws of governing authorities (Rom 13:1-7). Neither this text nor the texts about resident aliens (the ger) in the OT (referring to non-Israelites who have permission to be in the land) sanctions illegal immigration. There are very limited grounds given in Scripture for violating a country’s laws. Cheating a country’s relatively generous immigration laws is not among them. However one feels about the travel ban or the so-called “Dreamers,” this is manifestly not a “sea change” issue. The US already has a generous immigration policy, providing a pathway for citizenship for 1.1 million people each year. There are immigration opportunities for legitimate claims to asylum (which do not include wanting a higher standard of living because everyone in the world wants that). Everyone else needs to get in line rather than cut in line. It’s not as if legal immigration is going to be cancelled anytime soon.
Other than immigration issues, which hardly rival the moral weight or significance of abortion and the coercive “LGBTQ” assault on marriage, Rev. Anyabwile can come up with only the “Russian collusion” claim (which appears to many observers to amount to very little) and Anyabwile’s concern for the Trump administration’s rigorous drug enforcement policy, because he feels that this accelerates the imprisonment of “black and brown” drug offenders. Yet the offenders are doing their greatest damage in African-American and poor-white communities. Again, one can argue for greater or lesser sentences for criminal offenses but this is hardly a “sea change” issue affecting the basic human rights of law-abiding citizens. The Trump administration hasn't changed any drug laws; it is just enforcing the laws on the books. And here's the real kicker: According to a WashPost article from Jan. 5 of this year, "The number of people in federal prisons is falling, even under Trump."
Is Rev. Anyabwile blind to the fact that he is doing the bidding of the Washington Post, the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party whose main interests lie in the promotion of the coercive “LGBTQ” and abortion agendas and in assaulting with every state mechanism at their disposal Evangelical “bigots” who don’t treat homosexual orientation and transgenderism as the moral equivalent of racial diversity? He is allowing himself to become a pawn of an agenda intensely hostile to orthodox Christian faith. And yet groups like the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptists and The Gospel Coalition regularly give him a platform? It seems that the WashPost keeps going to the "well" of the ERLC (Russell Moore, "If Donald Trump has done anything, he has snuffed out the Religious Right," Oct. 9, 2016) and the Gospel Coalition (Collin Hansen, "This is the last spastic breath from the Religious Right before its overdue death," Oct. 8, 2016) to depress Evangelical support for the Republican candidate so that the radical anti-Evangelical left-wing Democratic candidate for President can win.
If I were an Evangelical with Rev. Anyabwile's political views, I wouldn't be accusing other Christians of being in league with the Devil because they preferred Trump to the Clinton cataclysm. The argument is much stronger that Rev. Anyabwile's preference for Clinton (he wrote an article espousing this back in 2016, which was published on the Gospel Coalition website) and similarly minded, hard-left Democrats (he preferred the socialist Bernie Sanders!) is both unwise and immoral. There's not much to commend supporting Democratic candidates hostile to Evangelical Christians (“deplorables” in Clinton’s terms), hostile to any protections for the life of the unborn, hostile to a biological basis for gender and to the notion of divinely ordained sexual complementarity between “male and female,” hostile to a judicial philosophy that respects the process of amending the Constitution and disallows treating that founding document as so many tea leaves into which left-wing ideology can be regularly imputed by unelected jurists, and hostile to every form of free speech and free exercise of religion that calls into question left-wing tyranny...
* Read the remainder of Dr. Gagnon's post on his FACEBOOK PAGE.