Robert Gagnon’s Critique of Alan Chambers and the New Direction of Exodus International
In a recent feature in The Atlantic (June 20, 2012), Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, said of “gay Christians” in same-sex marriages: “Some of us choose very different lives than others. But whatever we choose, it doesn’t remove our relationship with God.” When The Atlantic asked whether that means “a person living a gay lifestyle won’t go to hell, as long as he or she accepts Jesus Christ as personal savior,” Chambers said his “personal belief is that . . . while behavior matters, those things don’t interrupt someone’s relationship with Christ.”
Robert Gagnon (in a 34-page response) writes:
I have agonized for months about whether I should go public with my concerns about Alan’s leadership with Exodus. I have written to Alan a half dozen times since January 2012 when Alan made similar statements at a meeting of the “Gay Christian Network.” Our exchange was cordial but Alan has made clear to me that his views are fixed and will not change. Still, I had hoped that he would at least refrain from public comments of this sort. With his Atlantic interview it has become evident that he has no intention of keeping his aberrant views to himself. In fact, these views will define Exodus (even when Alan couches them as “his opinion,” which he only partly does in the Atlantic interview). There are, to be sure, many good parts to his interview. But the bad parts, which involve convictions at Alan’s theological center, are so bad that they fairly nullify the good.
As the opening to this article suggests, my main concern is that Alan’s comments to those living a homosexual life are ultimately unloving and ungracious. I don’t doubt that Alan intended his comments to “gay Christians” to be otherwise. Yet the actual result is to leave such persons deceived by giving them a message of “peace and security” when instead danger hangs over them (1 Thess 5:1-11). Who is gracious and loving? The parent that assures a child that crossing a busy intersection without looking both ways will produce no harm or the parent that does everything in his or her power to warn the child about the potential harm? Obviously the latter, for the warning is part of the makeup of a loving parent. In fact, state social services agencies count the former as abuse.
We saw above how Alan’s assurances to “gay Christians” are the antithesis of how Paul operated with regard to a case of sexual immorality in the church at Corinth.
You can read the whole thing here.
Here is a letter from Chambers on the new direction and emphasis.
This situation requires our careful analysis and prayers.
Update: Denny Burk’s brief suggestion seems plausible to me:
It appears that this has less to do with Chambers’ views on homosexuality than it does with his views on salvation. Chambers still affirms a biblical sexual ethic. He simply argues that Christians can ignore that ethic and still be considered Christians. It sounds like the non-lordship view of salvation that was made popular by Zane Hodges. This so-called “free grace” view teaches that an ungodly lifestyle need not trouble the assurance of a true “Christian.” The website of Chambers’ church in Orlando seems to confirm this view as well.
If you are unfamiliar with this controversy, I encourage you to read John MacArthur’s The Gospel according to Jesus and John Piper’s “Letter to a Friend concerning So-called ‘Lordship Salvation.’” The letter from Robert Gagnon calling for Chambers to resign also has extensive biblical and theological reflections on these themes.