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Evangelicals & Discernment

A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak. Ecclesiastes 3:7

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26

Hopefully, you seek to be discerning, cognizant, and vigilant of the events that help to shape the state of Evangelical thought and action in our world today.

Pastor Alistair Begg has been the topic of grave concern and spirited banter resulting from his counsel to an Evangelical grandmother who sought his pastoral counsel on whether she should attend her grandson’s same-sex marriage.

To the dismay of many, myself included, Pastor Begg advised the grandmother to attend the service and even to bring a gift as an act of love and compassion so she might keep the door to the relationship intact for the Gospel’s sake.

Pastor Begg’s counsel sent shockwaves throughout the Evangelical community, with hundreds of Evangelical radio stations dropping Begg’s radio show from their stations. Esteemed Pastor John MacArthur’s ministry withdrew their invitation for Begg to speak at MacArthur’s annual Shepherd’s conference.

I have been especially dismayed at the reticence of some to give frank and direct condemnation to Begg’s action.

One such instance was Katie Mccoy’s response on the February 16th The World and Everything In It Culture Friday’s segment. Katie Mccoy is a Ph.D. graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the recent first-time author of a book I highly recommend, To Be A Woman.

When asked about her response to the Begg counsel, Dr. Mccoy spent about 75% of her response qualifying her assessment with effusive praise for the impact Begg has had on her individually and the larger Evangelical community.

Akin to Pastor Voddie Baucham’s warning that the Church has adopted an Eleventh Commandment, “Thy Shall Be Nice,” instead of speaking as Winston Churchill coined with “Full Chests,” McCoy, like many other Evangelicals, seems prone to do given a watered down, dissection of a thousand cuts, tepid response.

McCoy almost seemed embarrassed as she meekly postulated at the very end of her response that she would not counsel someone to attend a similar service. Talk about burying the friggin lead.  Often, when engaging someone in dialogue, it is paramount you cut to the chase. My military training taught me the valuable lesson of employing BLUF-Bottom Line Up Front.

Why are Evangelicals so hesitant to speak forthrightly when forthrightness is called for and desperately needed as we wrestle with the admittedly hard things, knowing hard things are what Evangelicals consciously and freely signed up for when we decided to follow after Jesus Christ? Why is a direct answer, not the proper and expected response when confronted with a direct question?

Now, if one was writing Pastor Begg’s biography, including his past contributions, would be fine & well. If Begg were being inducted into the Evangelical Hall of Fame (if there could ever be such a place), it would be wholly proper to give a full-orbed and nuanced presentation of Begg’s entire track record in ministry. As I mentioned in my Sunday school this past Lord’s Day when speaking for God as Pastor Begg clearly does, This ain't horseshoes where it is sometimes good enough to get close.

When one is asked directly if Begg’s pastoral counsel was sound, then what is needed, what should be demanded and expected, is decisiveness. The last thing the Evangelical Church needs today are more leaders who are embarrassed to serve as Bulwarks for the Faith.

Imagine with me the countenance of the Apostle Paul when he rebuked the Apostle Peter when Paul witnessed Peter’s hypocrisy (see Galatians 2). The Bible records the encounter as Paul “withstood him [Peter] to the face.” No meek and mild here, and you want to know why?

Because Peter’s shameful and sinful actions demanded decisive and direct confrontation because of the possible negative impact Peter’s actions could have had on others; in the same way, Begg’s actions could affect others today who depend on and hold in high esteem his pastoral counsel. In fact, the grandmother expressed startlment with Begg’s sub-biblical counsel.

I believe the grandmother’s startlment arose from her intitutive notion that she should not be attending a same-sex marriage, even her grandson’s same-sex marriage.

The reason I am confident in my dogmatism is it would never be biblically permissible to attend an event God explicitly classifies as an abomination.

Contrary to Dr. Mccoy’s egregious rationale, neither Begg’s counsel nor the same-sex marriage dilemma is a Roman 14 type “grey area” where Evangelicals are free to follow their conscience because the Bible is not clear on the matter.

Talk about “Stinkin' Thinkin',” this here is “Stinkin' Thinkin'” to the highest degree.

Jude writes in his Epistle that one snatches individuals from the fire. When eternity possibly hangs in the balance, the circumstances do not give up the luxury of being prim and proper.

What further compounds the issue is when confronted by others, Pastor Begg double-downed and defended his counsel with the feeble justification that not attending the service provides ammunition to dissenters that Evangelicals are intolerant and unloving.

Well, my response is to sign me up as Mr. Intolerable and His Majesty the Unloving, all day, errday, and twice on Sundays.

My fellow Evangelicals, God nor His Word permits us to use pragmatism to chart our course as we engage the culture. Philosophy and rationale are legitimate only as it aligns with Holy Scripture.

Th most loving and compassionate thing an Evangelical family member could do for a family member engaging in a same-sex marriage is to speak truthfully, without apology, about what God has said regarding marriage.

Marriage is apolitico, meaning that marriage does not derive its origin nor its parameters from any human institution. So, despite what the United States Supreme Court ruled, any coupling outside of a biological man and a biological woman will never be a God-ordained union.

So Q.E.D., no Evangelical, seeking to be faithful to the Word of God, can, in good conscience, attend a same-sex marriage because one’s attendance at such an alleged wedding is a direct and unavoidable expression of celebration, support, and affirmation.

Pastor Alistair Begg has been and possibly continues to be a blessing to many, but his pastoral counsel to this grandmother is far afield, and Evangelicals must remember Jesus Christ says Himself; our love for Him must look like hate when compared to others.

For a correct Evangelical response to Pastor Begg’s counsel, I am attaching Pastor John MacArthur’s first public response and the audio link of Dr. Kathy McCoy’s response for your review and careful consideration.

As usual, let me know what you think. Until then, keep your hands to the plow and seek to serve for an Audience of One.

With fear and trembling,

Ricky V. Kyles DEd.Min

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