Desert Stream Ministries Outlines Differences with Exodus

In an email this morning, Andy Comiskey delineates the differences between Desert Stream Ministries and Exodus.  They are:

A different view of the consequences of sexual sin. Whereas Exodus believes that practicing ‘gay’ Christians may well inherit the Kingdom of heaven, we beg to differ. We believe that Christ followers must reckon with homosexual behavior as a serious betrayal of their humanity and spirituality, and repent of it in order to be assured of salvation.

A different expectation of change for same-sex strugglers. Though we agree with Exodus’ desire to more accurately define ‘change’ for those with SSA, Exodus now appears tentative and unclear as to the degree to which the same-sex attracted will experience change at all in their sexuality. We believe that Jesus brings change to every Christian with SSA who seeks Him whole-heartedly. He cannot help it. Jesus is our Creator and Redeemer who made us to represent Him in our gender and sexual selves. He places such a high premium upon sexual integrity that He acts incisively to redeem our sexual disintegration. Jesus frees every repentant heart to resume the journey toward wholeness.

A different theological anthropology. Desert Stream Ministries anchors our understanding of the ‘new creation’ in the truth that we are created in God’s image as male and female. That means that every same-sex struggler who follows Jesus is reconciled to his/her capacity to be a good offering to the opposite gender. We recognize that each soul differs in how they will live out that calling. Yet differing levels of progression in mature heterosexual relating don’t change one’s capability in Christ to resume that journey. Exodus advocates the noble goal of holiness, yet offers insufficient clarity as to what sexual wholeness means for those with SSA.

A different reliance upon reparative psychology. Exodus recently broke ties with ‘reparative therapy’, a broad school of thought developed by theorists and therapists who view same-sex attraction as a symptom of the breakdown in whole gender development. While Desert Stream Ministries is founded on theological, not psychological values, we rely upon reparative insights to understand what is blocked or missing in our souls. These keys help guide our pursuit of Jesus and His community to secure what we need in order to proceed onto wholeness.

A different reliance upon moral effort in becoming whole. Exodus appears to hold a comparatively passive understanding of sanctification; we believe that hard moral effort, inspired by grace, is essential in progressing into maturity. Our morality becomes beautiful as we engage actively in the spiritual and psychological disciplines that enable us to become mature Christians.

A different approach to ‘gay’ Christians. Exodus seems intent on building bridges with practicing ‘gay’ Christians. We believe that God wants only the best for all people, including practicing homosexuals. In His love, we fight for their repentance. However, we disagree with making peace with Christians who advocate homosexual practice; to us, these are false teachers who are guilty of leading others into darkness, an offense worse than Christians caught in sin who know it.

Many people outside of the evangelical world may see little distinction between Exodus and Restored Hope. However, as Comiskey’s note makes clear, the differences are large within this world.

A Look Inside the Restored Hope Network

In the Spring, a group of ministries once affiliated with Exodus International broke away and formed the Restored Hope Network. The first conference of the network will be held September 21-22 in Sacramento, CA. At that conference, the current group of leaders will more formally organize into an Exodus-like entity. Recently, the group released more information about they will conduct business.  In many ways, the RHN sounds like Exodus.

What is RHN’s mission statement?

Restored Hope is a membership governed network dedicated to restoring hope to those broken by sexual and relational sin especially those impacted by homosexuality. We proclaim that Jesus Christ has life changing power for all who submit to Christ as Lord; we also seek to equip the church to impart that transformation.

As Exodus used to do, RHN brings together the idea of sexual orientation change with spiritual beliefs and change. In other words, really good Christians will experience sexual reorientation as a consequence of submission to the teachings of Jesus.

You can join the group as an individual but only ministries will have a vote. It sounds a lot like how Exodus is organized.

Who can join Restored Hope Network?

The membership of RHN is composed primarily of member ministries. Member ministries must sub-mit an application to be considered for membership. The application will be available after August 15, 2012. Member ministries must be approved by unanimous vote by the Board of Directors. Membership must be renewed every year.

Most of the current leadership team are former long time Exodus leaders:

Who will lead Restored Hope Network?

The initial leadership of RHN are individuals who are part of the group of people who have come together under the banner Restored Hope Network. The forming committee was chosen by popular vote by the larger group. The Forming Committee is Stephen Black (First Stone Ministries,) Andrew & Annette Comiskey (Desert Stream Ministries), Joe Dallas (Genesis Counseling), David Kyle Foster (Mastering Life Min-istries), Dr. Robert Gagnon (Pittsburgh Seminary), Michael Newman (Christian Collation Reconciliation Ministries), Anne Paulk and Frank Worthen (New Hope Ministries).

This board will serve until a Board of Directors will be elected at RHN Ministry Leader’s Meeting in September, 2012.

While I disagree with the change paradigm (and won’t recommend RHN for anyone), I think it will be helpful to have a way to identify organizations who hold to it. Traditional evangelicals who want that approach can find it, whereas those who affirm the congruence paradigm within conservative circles will move more toward Exodus. Folks who aren’t sure where they heading or who don’t want to be affiliated with a non-affirming group might move toward Andrew Marin’s Living in the Tension groups.


Quick note on Jefferson and adolescence

Yesterday, on his Wallbuilders Live program, David Barton called adolescence a “progressive, liberal phenomenon.” He also said there was no adolescence during the founding era.

The term adolescence is derived from the Latin adolesco which means to grow up and mature. The concept and the term itself are not modern creations, although each age and culture develops different norms for teens.

Thomas Jefferson’s father died when Jefferson was 14. Did he identify that time of his life as in some way different than adulthood? He certainly appeared to in his 1808 letter to his grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph. In that letter, he spoke of that time in his life, and noted characteristics of adolescence.

When I recollect that at 14, the whole care & direction of myself was thrown on myself entirely, without a relation or friend qualified to advise or guide me, and recollect the various sorts of bad company with which I associated from time to time, I am astonished I did not turn off with some of them & become as worthless to society as they were.

Jefferson recognized that at 14, guidance of an adult was needed. He then credited his mentors, Randolph, Wythe and Small, for helping get through those times by their examples. And why did he need their example?

Knowing the even and dignified line they pursued, I could never doubt for a moment which of two courses would be in character for them. Whereas, seeking the same object through a process of moral reasoning, & with the jaundiced eye of youth, I should often have erred.

Curses on that “jaundiced eye of youth!” Jefferson recognized a formative period, call it youth or adolescence. His plans for public education took into account the intellectual and physical changes associated with youth and adolescence. Unless Barton would like now to  reverse course and consider Jefferson liberal and progressive, I can’t understand the point of taking on adolescence as some kind of liberal invention.


David Barton: Preparing for the “progressive, liberal phenomenon”

On Wallbuilders Live today (via RightWingWatch), we get this nugget of wisdom from David Barton:

They [the founders] didn’t know what the word “adolescent” meant. And, by the way, I checked with Rabbi [Daniel] Lapin, he says that is not a word that appears in Hebrew because it’s not in the mind of God. God wasn’t into adolescence, He was in to having you become productive, having you be fruitful, having your produce and so that’s why there was no adolescence in the Founding Era; that’s a modern phenomenon, that’s a progressive liberal phenomenon is adolescence.

This will come as startling news to James Dobson, who wrote “Preparing for Adolescence.” He will have to rename his book: Preparing for the Progressive, Liberal Phenomenon.”

I always thought puberty dealt teens a hormonal deck of cards that was something different than childhood and adulthood. Now that you think of it, hormones probably are liberal.

Aristotle once said, “Youth are heated by nature as drunken men by wine.” Democrat!

Did he just say that God’s mind is limited to Hebrew?



August 1 – Robert Carter Appreciation Day

On August 1, 1791, Robert Carter wrote a deed of emancipation for 452 of his slaves. Although no slaves were freed that day, he set in motion the largest emancipation in the United States until the Civil War. Carter finished the six page document on August 1, and then filed it in the Northumberland Courthouse on September 5, 1791. You can read “the first day of August” in the oval below.

Carter was moved to consider freedom for his slaves after a move toward first the Baptist faith and then Swendenborgianism. He was a contemporary of Thomas Jefferson, although there is no evidence that they ever communicated about Carter’s act of emancipation.

Today, a group of ministers is meeting in Cincinnati to attempt to hold Thomas Nelson publishers accountable for printing a book that whitewashed the record of Thomas Jefferson on slavery. When David Barton declares in The Jefferson Lies that Jefferson was unable to free his slaves due to Virginia law, Barton obscures the virtue of men like Carter who went against the resistance of other slave owners who talked about liberty but didn’t provide it for all. Carter and other emancipation minded people in Virginia took steps against their own interests to do what was right. These stories need to be celebrated and remembered, not hidden due to misguided reverence for the founders.

Wallbuilder’s slogan is “presenting America’s forgotten history and heroes with an emphasis on our moral, religious and constitutional heritage.” In my view, Robert Carter’s deed of emancipation is forgotten history and Carter is a forgotten hero.

For more on Carter click here, here, and (especially) here.

Members of Parliament Consider New Strategy to Enact Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

According to a pro-gay website (Freedom and Roam Uganda), there is concern that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has returned with a new legislative strategy. FARUG reports this morning that amendments have already been made to Section 145 of the Penal Code Act. However, when I talked to Helen Kawesa, spokeswoman for Parliament, she knew nothing of a bill to amend Section 145.  Initially, she thought I was asking about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which she said is “still in committee.”

Apparently, a new bill has not been tabled yet, but indeed, according to other sources, there is a proposal to achieve the same ends as the Anti-Homosexuality Bill by amending the Penal Code Act. Section 145 now prohibits “canal knowledge of any person against the order of nature.” The proposal would prohibit sexual acts with a person of the same sex and the use of any media in a way that depicted homosexuality in a positive manner. Life in prison and the death penalty are also included according to the FARUG report.

Currently, it is not known who plans to offer the amendment or when it will be offered. A review of the order paper for today finds nothing on the subject. According to Susan Merembe of the Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), there is no bill at present. On SMUG’s Facebook page, she said

The bill has not yet been tabled. Try to breathe, the info was just an update to keep your eyes open. Political lobbying really, nothing too exciting.

Rumors that changes to the code have already been made are apparently incorrect. However, this political lobbying may signal that a renewed effort is on the horizon.