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Are we to be shaped by Scripture or culture?

October 2020

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, says Scripture. It is in the spirit of friendship that this newspaper takes the unhappy step of raising concerns about recent online seminars broadcast by our friends in the Evangelical Movement of Wales. There were a number of seminars aimed at young adults, as part of AberLite, the online replacement for this year’s Aber Conference. One of the seminars dealt with LGBTQ issues, another with racism.

The seminars are reviewed by Paul Smith in this edition of ET. There are more details in his article. But essentially, we are raising concerns about the phraseology and theology that was presented to the young people. No one doubts the sincere desire to reach out in love with the gospel of Christ to people from different backgrounds. But significant elements of those presentations were more in line with modern-day identity politics than God’s Word. There was a conspicuous reluctance to speak about sin and repentance in the LGBTQ seminar, and an equally conspicuous enthusiasm to condemn the church as the villain on the question of race.

More than ever Christians – young adult Christians especially – need clear and biblical thinking on these social issues. Believers are facing these issues with increasing frequency, and these matters sometimes come to a head in difficult pastoral situations. It is often said that hard cases make bad law. The same is true in pastoral matters. Difficult pastoral situations make bad doctrine. The doctrinal should guide the pastoral, not the other way around.

Furthermore, the decision by EMW to invite a speaker from the Faraday Institute – which supports theistic evolution – is also concerning. We accept that EMW is a broad movement embracing different views on a range of issues. But just how far do those limits stretch? That is not an unreasonable question to ask, especially regarding public teaching.

These issues – human sexuality, race, creation – are touchstone issues in our culture today. It is vital that we as evangelicals think clearly. The pressure to soften our stances is only going to become more intense as our society moves in an ever-more ‘progressive’ direction. Evangelicals need to decide whether their thinking will be shaped by Scripture or culture. We sincerely hope our friends at EMW will equip Christians to do this.