by Paul Ryan
What is the Nashville Statement? Every major news outlet is answering this very same question.
USA Today writes: "NASHVILLE —A coalition of conservative evangelical leaders laid out their beliefs on human sexuality, including opposition to same-sex marriage and fluid gender identity, in a new doctrinal statement.
It's called the Nashville Statement and the national coalition says it's their response to an increasingly post-Christian, Western culture that thinks it can change God's design for humans."
Many prominent evangelicals from the Reformed, Anglican, and Wesleyan traditions are supporting this joint effort by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission which was released on August 29, 2017. Influential leaders such as J.I. Packer, John Piper, Frances Chan, Sam Alberry, and Mark Tooley are among the signees.
Doctrinal Clarification and Biblical Conviction
The entire document consists of a preamble and fourteen articles of faith with affirmations and denials. The preamble begins with:
“Evangelical Christians at the dawn of the twenty-first century find themselves living in a period of historic transition. As Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian, it has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being.”
This “revision,” specifically addressing gender, sexuality and marriage, has brought about the need for doctrinal clarification and biblical conviction in the 21st century Church. This is the purpose of the Nashville statement.
Again, referring to the preamble: “…in the hope of serving Christ’s church and witnessing publicly to the good purposes of God for human sexuality revealed in Christian Scripture, we offer the following affirmations and denials.”
One of the most controversial affirmations and denials comes from article ten of the Nashville Statement.
“WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.
WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.”
Everything Is At Stake
The Church historically has referred to these formal confessions or doctrinal statements of fundamental beliefs in Christianity as Creeds.
Dr. Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, speaking to the Christian Post astutely remarked concerning the Nashville statement that, "The answer to the question 'What and who is a human being?' is the mega-ethical issue of our time. It impacts everything.” By "everything," Dr. Land means not only our identity and sexuality but also the gospel itself. For if scripture is not the authoritative source for what it means to be human, how could it contain the only means whereby man can be saved?
If scripture is not the authoritative source for what it means to be human, how could it contain the only means whereby man can be saved?
This Creed can be of use not only to individual Christians, but to our churches and schools. Dr. Land explains, "This statement is an attempt to equip the Church to address this issue from a biblical, Christian perspective [and] to provide a catechism for churches, for Bible study groups, for Sunday schools, families, college students, to equip themselves to understand what the Bible says about these issues and to do so in a positive way."
A New Task for Our Generation
Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist theological seminary, in an interview with the Washington Post said that, “The ‘Nashville Statement,’ like many other doctrinal declarations common to Christian history, seeks to summarize, clarify, and affirm what Holy Scripture reveals. In this case, we find ourselves clarifying what no previous generation of Christians has been called upon to clarify. We must now clarify and specify what the Bible teaches about human sexuality, marriage, and what it means to be made male and female." (Emphasis mine)
That no generation of Christians before now has been tasked with the necessity of defining and defending these truths, coupled with the unique prominence these issues have taken, both within the church, our nation, and the world, is what makes the Nashville Statement the defining Creed of our time.
The Church is to be the “light of the world” and the “salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13-14). In this, we need to be “ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15). It is our privilege to be that light, and our responsibility to give that light to the world.
In these difficult times, I would think all Christians would rather, like Jude, speak nothing but of the joys of “our common salvation.” Jude, nevertheless, had to “earnestly contend for the faith" (Jude 1:3).
And so must we, “for there are certain men crept in unawares…ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 1:4).
The Nashville Statement in its entirety can be found at https://cbmw.org/nashville-statement.
Meyer, Holley. (2017). What is the Nashville Statement and why are people talking about it? USA TODAY NETWORK. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/08/30/what-nashville-statement-and-why-people-talking-it/619009001/.
Showalter, Brandon. (2017). Broad Coalition of Evangelicals Releases 'Nashville Statement' on Human Sexuality, Identity. The Christian Post. Retrieved from http://www.christianpost.com/news/broad-coalition-of-evangelicals-releases-nashville-statement-on-human-sexuality-identity-197214/.
Mohler, R. Albert Jr. (2017). I Signed the Nashville Statement. It’s an Expression of Love for Same-sex Attracted People. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/09/03/i-signed-the-nashville-statement-its-an-expression-of-love-for-same-sex-attracted-people/.
Vicari, Chelsen. (2017). Top Evangelical Leaders Back New Nashville Statement on Sexuality. Juicy Ecumenism. Retrieved from https://juicyecumenism.com/2017/08/29/top-evangelical-leaders-back-new-statement-sexuality.
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