Irenic – (adjective) aiming or aimed at peace. (noun) a part of Christian theology concerned with reconciling different denominations and sects.
Written and promoted by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, the Nashville Statement is a series of affirmations and denials which condemns affirmation of GLBT people. The statement has been criticized by gay affirming and traditional Christians alike on various grounds.
A recent signer touted by the CBMW is Christian apologist William Lane Craig. In a statement tweeted by the Council, Craig said:
— CBMW (@CBMWorg) September 25, 2017
Given the level of controversy over the statement, it is hard to understand how the Nashville Statement brings Christians together. In fact, it brought some Christians together while excluding others.
One purpose of the Nashville Statement, according to one of the authors Denny Burk, is to draw a line in the sand. Article 10 of the statement reads:
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.
About that article, Burk said:
Readers who perceive Article 10 as a line in the sand have rightly perceived what this declaration is about. Anyone who persistently rejects God’s revelation about sexual holiness and virtue is rejecting Christianity altogether, even if they claim otherwise.
Signer Peter Sprigg said this about the statement:
Anyone who cannot agree with the affirmations and denials in the Nashville Statement has essentially departed from biblical and historical Christian orthodoxy.
I don’t think the authors and signers mean the statement to be about peace.
Catholics have signed the evangelical statement. New signer William Lane Craig’s take on the deity and humanity of Christ has raised some eyebrows. Various views of the trinity are represented among the signers. Some signers believe Christians can lose their salvation and others don’t.* Apparently, these are now minor differences compared to differences regarding views of sexual orientation and gender identity.
So a bunch of Christians have gathered together on one side of the line and others have gathered on the other side of the line. Those who are aware of the statement have come together against each other. In this view of irenic, I suppose you could say gays are an irenogenic force.
I say the Nashville Statement is irenic like Donald Trump is irenic. Polarizing might be a better word.
The Romans Statement is an Irenic Statement
To me, an irenic statement is the one found in Romans 10: 6-13.
6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
If GLBT people believe in Jesus, according to the Roman Statement, they will never be put to shame. It takes Jesus’ followers to do that. By now, there are over 17,000 of them (click on signers) irenically on their side of the line.
Whatever beliefs one holds, I hope we can work a little harder to discuss them a bit more irenically.
Do Gays Stay Saved?
Over the past week, I have asked several signers of the Nashville Statement if Article 10 means that gays are not saved (“an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness”). I would really like to know what the authors of the Nashville Statement believe about this. Romans 10 seems clear that the matter is pretty simple, but Article 10 raises questions about what kind of gospel is being affirmed by this statement. Very few signers have commented and so the ambiguity remains. I would like to hear from any signers about what you believe Article 10 to mean regarding redemption.
*I have talked to several who have different views on whether or not gays remain saved if they identify as gay.