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September 13, 2011


Willow Creek Splits With Exodus International

The following article was written by one of our long time and much loved commenters, episcopalienated.  Here’s a link that will tell you a little about him in case you are new here .  He brings much to the discussion and we at Stand Firm are honored to call him friend.  It is with delight that I post his article—hopefully the first of many. 

Many conservative Christians were surprised and dismayed recently to learn of the decision made by Willow Creek Community Church to sever its longstanding relationship with Exodus International, the world’s largest and most successful Christian outreach ministry to those who are seeking freedom from a homosexual lifestyle.  Willow Creek is an Evangelical mega-church located in South Barrington, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, and was founded in 1975 by Bill Hybels who still serves as its senior pastor.  With a weekly attendance of more than 20,000, it has been identified as “the most influential church in America” in opinion polls among Christian pastors nationwide in recent years.

A controversy has apparently developed around the issue of reparative therapy, which Exodus supports and recommends, and a concern on the part of Willow Creek Church with how its message is being perceived by members of the gay community.  My own view of reparative therapy is that there are two opposite but related errors people can make about it.  One is to argue that this form of treatment is fraudulent, or even downright harmful, and simply doesn’t work.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The other is to insist that it is somehow supposed to work for everyone and that those for whom it does not work are either out of luck or doing something wrong.  I think that position is equally nonsensical.

Reparative therapy can have a successful outcome even for those who feel sufficiently conflicted about their sexuality but who have no interest whatsoever in embracing Christianity.  It is highly desirable in itself and beneficial to many, but it is never a substitute for Christian conversion, nor is it any kind of alternative to the daily struggle against the world, the flesh, and the devil which all Christians are called to undertake, aided by God’s grace, which is the one and only thing that can save any of us anyway.

But Exodus International isn’t guilty of promoting any kind of pious quackery on this issue and the position it takes is eminently reasonable.  In the “What Does Exodus Believe?” section of its website, Exodus acknowledges the fact that reparative therapy is “not religious” and correctly states that its “principles are derived from psychoanalytic psychology.” 

It further describes reparative therapy in this way: “There are many clinical approaches to dealing with unwanted same-sex attraction within the world of psychology. Reparative therapy is only one, but the most widely known. It is a therapeutic, clinical process that operates under the premise that men and women dealing with same-sex attraction are attempting to restore broken familial relationships in an insufficient, unhealthy way. The therapy attempts to re-direct this drive towards healthy, nonsexual relationships with same sex peers and to explore other underlying personal issues in the counseling process. Some within the Exodus network have found this type of therapy to be beneficial.”

A “Christianity Today” article about Willow Creek‘s decision to disaffiliate from Exodus contains this response from Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus, who stated that “his main regret about the split is that it was predicated on a false perception that for Exodus, ‘freedom from homosexuality’ means changing orientation and eventually being in a heterosexual marriage. ‘In reality, the majority of people we minister to at Exodus are single, and marriage isn’t the answer—it’s just one part of our ministry.’”  A growing maturity in recent years has also helped many in the ex-gay support movement to understand that true deliverance from the effects of same-sex attraction involves a great deal more than a pietistic approach that is somehow designed to simply “pray the gay away.”

There is no indication so far that Pastor Hybels and Willow Creek Church have taken a step away from a Biblical view of human sexuality and the church itself will continue to provide support for those struggling with this dilemma.  Nevertheless, I can’t help wondering what a wrenching effect this decision may have on those members of Willow Creek who are currently participating in and benefiting from the ministry offered by Exodus, along with how it will impact the church‘s ability to reach the larger community with a gospel message that is truly transformational in nature. 

Mr. Chambers expresses what I think is a very legitimate concern: “The choice to end our partnership is definitely something that shines a light on a disappointing trend within parts of the Christian community,” he said, “which is that there are Christians who believe like one another who aren’t willing to stand with one another, simply because they’re afraid of the backlash people will direct their way if they are seen with somebody who might not be politically correct.”

What is certain is that Soulforce, a group that describes itself as “committed to freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people from religious and political oppression through relentless nonviolent resistance,” is celebrating Willow Creek’s recent action and had sought to influence the Church to move in this direction.  They are actively engaged in promoting the “gay is OK” political and religious agenda.

Although Soulforce isn’t taking full credit for the outcome, Executive Director Rev. Cindi Love enthusiastically welcomed Willow Creek’s decision in a response she gave at the Huffington Post: “Those of us who long for the Church Universal to equip its saints in the walk of peace and justice and inclusion are celebrating today that Willow Creek has found a door in the wall of religious bigotry and walked through it in such a public way.  The leadership of the church and its congregants may still disagree doctrinally with any position that affirms LGBT people as whole children of God entitled to full membership and relationship within the Beloved Community. We have not yet heard where they stand on these issues.  Yet, their disaffiliation with Exodus and its harmful reparative therapy is a blessing that I want to affirm and thank Bill Hybels for doing.”

The bottom line for me is that I’m convinced Willow Creek has made a potentially disastrous mistake by bending under pressure from the “you’re all a bunch of homophobes” crowd, one which could undermine the credibility and effectiveness of its message and ministry.  That isn’t going to do them any good in the long run anyway, no matter how hard they try, because the architects of the gay rights agenda can’t be placated by anything short of total agreement with everything they have in mind.  The religious component of that movement is no exception, even if they occasionally resort to use of the carrot rather than the stick. 

I believe that we would do well to lift up the congregation at Willow Creek Community Church in prayer while standing against this undue compromise. —epsicopalienated

 

 


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75 comments

Willow Creek = sell out

[1] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-13-2011 at 03:38 PM · [top]

Agree—Willow Creek caved.  Really bad form.

You’ve only got two options.  Either Willow Creek leadership has changed its theology to approve of gay sex [and thus they do not support Exodus International, which is an excellent group] or they’re just too cowardly to continue in partnership with a reputable and loving ministry like Exodus.

I’d be pretty ashamed to be a member there . . .

Great article, Episcopalienated!

[2] Posted by Sarah on 9-13-2011 at 03:59 PM · [top]

FWIW, I was at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit earlier in August and Bill Hybels covered this issue.  It came up because Howard Schultz, the chairman and CEO of Starbucks, bowed out of the Summit at the last minute because he caved to political pressure (which is proof to me that he should not have been speaking at a leadership summit).  Bill Hybels reaffirmed their stance on human sexuality, that it should only be exercised between a man and woman in marriage.  In addition, he said that the ending of the partnership with Exodus had nothing to do with a change in their stance, but had everything to do with a re-evaluation of how they use their resources.

[3] Posted by Townsend Waddill+ on 9-13-2011 at 04:12 PM · [top]

In addition, he said that the ending of the partnership with Exodus had nothing to do with a change in their stance, but had everything to do with a re-evaluation of how they use their resources

  If this is about resources then Willow Creek is even more of a sell out.  Like Episcopalienated pointed out - what a disappointment to those that were either in ministry with Exodus or hoping to be in ministry.  Will Willow Creek now tell them to “buck up” and get over it or have they put a new ministry in place to put legs to the rhetoric?

I would call into question the decision making ability of any leaders involved in this decision.  I’ll certainly share this information with anyone I know who might be considering an affiliation or donation.

[4] Posted by Jackie on 9-13-2011 at 04:20 PM · [top]

Jackie, in another news article, a spokeswoman for Willow Creek made it quite clear that they already have ministries in place to deal with the issue of gays in the church.  I’m not willing to throw an organization under the bus that is doing great things for the kingdom, just because I do not like the fact that they ended one partnership - especially if they have their own ministries in place as they do.  Based on the information I have available at this point, I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and will continue to support them by my attendance at the Global Leadership Summit and by using their Network program, both of which have had tremendous impact on me and my congregation’s leadership.

[5] Posted by Townsend Waddill+ on 9-13-2011 at 04:37 PM · [top]

I don’t buy the reevaluation of resources excuse either unless they’re starting their own ministry and it’s comparable to Exodus or Redeemed Lives. 
And as far as Starbucks goes, why couldn’t Willow Creek find a like-minded successful Christian business person to speak? What were they thinking?

[6] Posted by Ralinda on 9-13-2011 at 04:38 PM · [top]

My point is that we need to be careful about whether or not we “buy the excuse” with less than all the facts.  We may be calling something an excuse when it may not be.  Until I see more info that Willow has changed its approach, I’m willing to stick with them and give them the benefit of the doubt - in a spirit of Christian charity of course.

[7] Posted by Townsend Waddill+ on 9-13-2011 at 04:47 PM · [top]

Preach it, brother!

[8] Posted by Elder Oyster on 9-13-2011 at 04:55 PM · [top]

I’m more inclined to agree with Townsend on this one. My congregation, while not as large or wealthy as Willow Creek, is feeling the pinch, financially speaking. This has caused us to re-evaluate how we spend the money God has given us. In our case, we had to cease supporting (financially, anyway) some missionaries we were blessed to support before. This does not in any way mean that we don’t believe in missionary work, or in supporting those called to that ministry.  In this article, I haven’t seen much that would suggest that they cut funding for any reason other than hard economic times and tight resources. You can only cut corners for so long before you have to start cutting programs, unfortunately.

Yours in Christ,
jacob

[9] Posted by Jacobsladder on 9-13-2011 at 05:22 PM · [top]

A article in the New American entitled Willow Creek Mega-Church Cuts Ties With Exodus Outreach to “Gays” mentions the meeting that took place between representatives of Soulforce and Pastor Hybels in 2008.  Getting together with those folks was something that even Joel Osteen wasn’t willing to do.

When is the last time Souforce reacted this enthusiastically to a conservative church’s “re-evaluation of how they use their resources” if that’s all there is to it?

[10] Posted by episcopalienated on 9-13-2011 at 05:32 PM · [top]

Townsend+, I understand and appreciate your loyalty, however, even Exodus sees this as a slap in the face: 

A “Christianity Today” article about Willow Creek‘s decision to disaffiliate from Exodus contains this response from Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus, who stated that “his main regret about the split is that it was predicated on a false perception that for Exodus, ‘freedom from homosexuality’ means changing orientation and eventually being in a heterosexual marriage.

  If, in fact, this is a shift of resources to expand their reparative therapy ministry inhouse, someone should fire the leadership who bungled the press release.  If indeed Willow Creek did not bow to Soul Force, why wasn’t this a joint announcement between Willow Creek and Exodus?  From what I know of them they would be delighted to know that there was a real partner with them in the mission field.    If I were a member of the leadership team at Willow Creek and there truly had been no change in theology, I would be on the phone immediately to Exodus to see how this “negative” perception could be remedied.  Anything short of soundly denouncing the impression Soul Force presents, would, unfortunately, tell the world that Soul Force has won the day.  And if Tec has taught me anything, it is that you withhold the money the moment the leadership fails to step up with clear theology through words and actions.  You can always catch up on your contributions but for some strange reason, they never give refunds for broken promises and false gospels.

[11] Posted by Jackie on 9-13-2011 at 06:20 PM · [top]

I will admit to a bias straight out, as a 40 yr plus member of the Episcopal Church, it was Bill Hybels who brought me to realize that Jesus was my Savior and what His sacrifice on the cross meant for me.

That being said, I find it humorous that a group that represent an ASA that is dwarfed by Willow Creek should be so critical of the decision.  I went to a small group leaders conference at Willow.  When I told another participant that I was “Episcopal”, she literally recoiled.  I had to explain that I wasn’t “that kind of Episcopal”.  Whether agree with their methods or not, that church has brought so many people to God.  They are doing great things.  Many more great things than the Episcopal/Anglican church has, in my humble opinion.  As stated above, I was baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal church.  I was a member of the Diocese of San Joaquin.  I finally got tired of the fight, of the drama of “who are the true Episcopalians”.  I took my family to a wonderful Evangelical Covenant church with a large youth group and have never been happier, or more filled with the Holy Spirit.  I would suggest we not throw stones at one another.

[12] Posted by usma87 on 9-13-2011 at 06:22 PM · [top]

Hi usma87,

“That being said, I find it humorous that a group that represent an ASA that is dwarfed by Willow Creek should be so critical of the decision.”

Because we know that the church with the largest crowd is always right.

[13] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-13-2011 at 06:25 PM · [top]

No, size is not all that matters.  Do you dispute that Willow Creek is doing great things?  Do they have a cross in church, no; do they celebrate the Eucharist in the Anglican way, no.  Does that make them wrong?  I would join you in your disappointment if they changed their theology.  Why not give Bill Hybels a call and ask him rather than speculate?

[14] Posted by usma87 on 9-13-2011 at 06:30 PM · [top]

“Do you dispute that Willow Creek is doing great things?”

Not at all. Neither do I dispute that the Episcopal Church is “doing good things”

“Do they have a cross in church, no”

Matters not a bit one way or the other…

“do they celebrate the Eucharist in the Anglican way, no.”

I could care less about how they celebrate the Eucharist. 

“Does that make them wrong?”

Nope.

“I would join you in your disappointment if they changed their theology.”

Well, if “Christian theology” involves sundering a relationship with a Christian organization for fear of offending an organization that is an enemy of the cross, then they have certainly remained true to it.

“Why not give Bill Hybels a call and ask him rather than speculate?”

Because his representative spoke clearly enough as quoted in the article above as do their actions.

[15] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-13-2011 at 06:41 PM · [top]

You must be right. Thanks for the discussion.

[16] Posted by usma87 on 9-13-2011 at 06:55 PM · [top]

Apparently so. Thank you.

[17] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-13-2011 at 06:57 PM · [top]

...the architects of the gay rights agenda can’t be placated by anything short of total agreement with everything they have in mind.

another thing as certain as death and taxes!

[18] Posted by Athanasius Returns on 9-13-2011 at 06:58 PM · [top]

Thanks for posting this article from episcopalienated.  I too was rather alarmed when the news broke.  While financial matters can always be a concern, note that finances are never mentioned in the reasons given for the split.  Soulforce is.  And also notice that Willow Creek has no problem hosting its own mega-conference, the Willow Creek Leadership Summit.

I think this statement from Alan Chambers of Exodus International is instructive:

Willow Creek was one of our first Exodus Church Association partners. They have had an incredible outreach for two decades to people dealing with same-sex attractions. In 2009 an inquest of sorts was embarked upon, led by one of their elders to find out what they were offering to people affected by unwanted homosexuality.  The inquest culminated in a meeting between members of the Exodus staff, the elder in question and the staff person overseeing their recovery ministries.  At that meeting they shockingly declared that they didn’t want to help people overcome because that wasn’t possible.  They simply wanted to tell people that abstinence was the only option and then provide them with comfortable place to abstain.

The full text of the statement can be found here.

Episcopalienated did mention a point I had missed: think of those at Willow Creek who may be dealing with same-sex attraction and benefited from the ministry that had been jointly offered through the Exodus-Willow Creek partnership.  Regardless of where you might be on the journey (anywhere from chaste and celibate singleness to dating to even marriage), wouldn’t you experience some sort of betrayal or abandonment?  Would you wonder how this elder and staff member decided what you and God thought was best for you?

[19] Posted by Reformed Wanderer on 9-13-2011 at 06:59 PM · [top]

My understanding of Bill Hybels and the leadership of Willow Creek is that they would never cave to a group like SoulForce.  I see SoulForce and other pro-gay groups rejoicing over this, but I believe their rejoicing is short-lived.  Willow’s position is still what it always has been.  I will be loyal to them, but I will not blindly be loyal to them.  If I thought for a minute that they were going soft, I would drop them in a heartbeat, as any faithful shepherd would.

[20] Posted by Townsend Waddill+ on 9-13-2011 at 07:26 PM · [top]

The statement linked in #19 is quite disturbing.  If that is indeed the philosophy of Willow Creek, it certainly puts God in a very, very small box.  How do they explain the many healings including Dr. Mario Bergner and David Jernigan

If you would like to contact them you can do so here.

[21] Posted by Jackie on 9-13-2011 at 08:18 PM · [top]

RE: “Anything short of soundly denouncing the impression Soul Force presents, would, unfortunately, tell the world that Soul Force has won the day.”

Yup—obviously it’s clear that Soul Force believes itself to have been triumphant.  If Willow Creek indeed eliminated its partnership with Exodus due to finances then they should have stated that publicly.  But obviously, according to Exodus, they stated something entirely different.

[22] Posted by Sarah on 9-13-2011 at 08:32 PM · [top]

I also find the comment in #19 very disturbing. Not everyone is able to be free from same-sex attraction, but many are, some to a very great degree.  An alcoholic in recovery does not gain total freedom from any desire for a drink; he simply knows what to do when that desire comes to keep from drinking.

[23] Posted by AnglicanXn on 9-13-2011 at 08:55 PM · [top]

It’s possible that Soulforce simply pointed Willow Creek in the direction of the current evidence about Reparative Therapy (such as here), which is that it doesn’t work, and Willow Creek responded accordingly.

[24] Posted by Gnu Ordure on 9-13-2011 at 08:56 PM · [top]

RE: “It’s possible that Soulforce simply pointed Willow Creek in the direction of the current evidence about Reparative Therapy (such as here), which is that it doesn’t work, and Willow Creek responded accordingly.”

Nah—because anyone who *insists* that it “does not work” ever—without a controlled variable closed-lab study—is clearly functioning under a religious worldview that *forbids* that it *ever* work at all. 
; > )

And I don’t think Willow Creek is that ignorant or naive.

Thankfully—for the rest of us—this thread is not about whether reparative therapy can work.  That’s already been determined one way or the other by all of those with their respective foundational worldviews, in the absence of controlled-variable lab-verified experiments, which as it happens is how almost all psychotherapy works contrary to the illusions of certain practitioners who desperately wish to wrap themselves in the mantle of “scientist.”  It’s practically impossible to conduct controlled variable experiments on the human psyche [which in itself is, obviously, not scientifically verifiable], so those psychotherapists with the pretension of “scientist” must content themselves with studies on the *surrounding* and material realities of the human to shore up the illusion.

[25] Posted by Sarah on 9-13-2011 at 10:02 PM · [top]

#13 - exactly Matt. What were 12 fisherman and a Jewish rabbi thinking?

[26] Posted by Festivus on 9-14-2011 at 08:34 AM · [top]

Correction - a few fisherman, tax collector and others that did not represent their craft.

[27] Posted by Festivus on 9-14-2011 at 08:35 AM · [top]

And just to add some more thoughts, while this looks like a repudiation of Exodus from the SoulForce (whatever that means) perspective, WillowCreek is quick to point out that was not the intent.

[28] Posted by Festivus on 9-14-2011 at 08:44 AM · [top]

Festivus - I need Willow Creek to address the issue raised in #19.  Either there is a terrible misunderstanding that needs to be corrected or Willow Creek is trying to play both sides against the middle.  If they believe abstinence is the only way, they need to be open with their membership.  I have contacted them and hope for a response.  This has been a wonderful venue for the Gospel message and it would be a shame to see it go down in flames like all the others that capitulated in fear of the activist lobby.

[29] Posted by Jackie on 9-14-2011 at 09:13 AM · [top]

Calm down, folks.

While I regret that Willow made the unfortunate decision it did, and while I agree with eposcopalianted and many others above that this move sends the wrong message to many people, I would also have to add, as a qualifying counterpoint, that it’s easy to misinterpret such moves.  Personally, I think Townsend Waddill+ has struck the right note and tone on this thread, and I particularly appreciate his valuable clarification (especially his report from the recent big Leadership Summit) that Willow isn’t modifying its teaching on sexual morality at all.

Before we rush to judgment, we ought to recall that Bill Hybels and Willow Creek aren’t alone in trying to keep (or adopt) a relatively low (or lower) profile on the homosexuality issue in trying to reach the unchurched in a secular, amoral culture that strongly tends to misinterpret any and all opposition to the pro-gay agenda as rooted in “homophobia.” 

Just look at how carefully Rick Warren and Saddleback avoid being branded as “anti-gay.”  Or look at how artfully Nicki Gumbel and HTB in London do essentially the same thing.  Are we going to write them all off as feckless compromisers??  I sure hope not.  That’s unfair and undeserved.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I still deplore this move and regard it as a mistake.  But I think I can understand it.  As Townsend Waddill+ rightly warned us above, let’s not rush to pass judgment here.

David Handy+
firm supporter of Exodus International

[30] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 9-14-2011 at 09:30 AM · [top]

NRA - I am perfectly calm.  Are you all atwitter because Christians are more alert now and are no longer willing to sit back and be walked over with revisionist agenda?

I have contacted Willow Creek and asked for an explanation.  If they affirm a biblical approach to this matter, no problem.  I do think they owe it to Exodus to clear the misunderstanding in the press.  If, however, they have begun to practice the two step, the membership needs to know.

[31] Posted by Jackie on 9-14-2011 at 10:11 AM · [top]

RE: “Before we rush to judgment, we ought to recall that Bill Hybels and Willow Creek aren’t alone in trying to keep (or adopt) a relatively low (or lower) profile on the homosexuality issue in trying to reach the unchurched in a secular, amoral culture that strongly tends to misinterpret any and all opposition to the pro-gay agenda as rooted in “homophobia.”

The desire to have a low profile on the homosexuality issue—that point where secular culture is currently attempting to force the church to conform or *pretend*—is *precisely* what this thread is all about.

If that is what Willow Creek is doing, then for shame.

It’s pointless to fight for orthodox faith that the secular culture is not attacking—that would be like my “advancing to the rear” during a mugging of one of my friends and then proclaiming my deep and abiding commitment to her later on, when all is calmer.

[32] Posted by Sarah on 9-14-2011 at 11:02 AM · [top]

I’m with NRA+.  Besides, the only true test of a church’s orthodoxy is whether or not they denounce non-144-hour views of Creation.  Well, that and holding to the Chicago Statement of Inerrancy.

[33] Posted by J Eppinga on 9-14-2011 at 11:30 AM · [top]

#30 - where do you draw the limit? You seem to be implying that there are people who would be willing to listen to a case that homosexual acts are immoral and that people can successfully resist or overcome these impulses, but the mere mention of Exodus International would cause them to knee-jerk reject anyone who said that. But Exodus International isn’t Westboro Baptist Church - in fact it’s the very opposite, so I wonder if the people who would out of hand reject anything associated with Exodus would even bother to listen to anyone who would disagree with homosexual activists in the first place. And if Willow Creek will distance itself from this organization just based on the presumption of stigma, why not reject concepts as well, such as “homosexuals don’t necessarily have to act on their impulses, and some can even change”, or “homosexuality is immoral”?

I realize you are saying that their judgment call here is incorrect, but you also seem to be saying that this general principle of avoiding stigma is a good one, but I don’t see how that can avoid leading to compromise eventually.

[34] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 9-14-2011 at 11:37 AM · [top]

Look honey, I know the guy hit you in the face and grabbed your purse while I just stood there, but how on earth are we supposed to reach muggers unless we create a friendly environment for them?

[35] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-14-2011 at 12:04 PM · [top]

When Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, pulled out of speaking at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit in August, I was hoping it wouldn’t make that much of a difference in Willow Creek’s approach to this issue.  But, sadly, it apparently has.  If you look at the typical Starbucks customer, you have exactly the kind of person Willow Creek is trying to reach. So Bill Hybels caved. That appears to me to be the bottom line.  Sad.  Very sad.

[36] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 9-14-2011 at 02:05 PM · [top]

Sarah, your post #32 reminded me of a quote that I think has been reproduced on SF before, but is nonetheless worth repeating:

“If I profess, with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle-field besides is mere flight and disgrace to him if he flinches at that one point.”

-Elizabeth Rundle Charles, The Chronicles of the Schoenberg Cotta Family

[37] Posted by Fr. Andrew Gross on 9-14-2011 at 02:12 PM · [top]

Hmmm, after about 9 months of abstaining from commenting here at SFiF, one of my first forays (#30) after returning a few days ago seems to have aroused the usual levels of controversy.  However, I do note with pleasure, that even if editors Jackie, Sarah, and Matt are inclined to view my #30 negatively, I seem to have garnered a very unusual vote of support from the unlikely source Moot (#33), who generally loves to tease or criticize me.  Thanks, Moot.

Judging from #34 among other responses, I guess my brief (for once!) post left my point unclear enough that I should amplify and clarify what I was trying to say, and perhaps more importantly, what I was NOT.

For starters, let me agree heartily with the quotation aptly provided by Fr. Gross (#37), which actually comes from Martin Luther (originally).  I didn’t intend for one moment to deny that we must not flee from the battle where the fighting is fiercest.  It’s rather all a matter of timing, and of your comunication strategy, which is largely dictated by what target group you are seeking to reach.

Let me explain.  I think the reason that Hybels may be reducing the public prominence of Willow with regard to the big church’s support of Exodus International (although I’m speculating here) is the same reason that Rick Warren or Nicki Gumbel have avoided a similar public identification with that wonderful ministry: it’s the kiss of death when it comes to winning an initial hearing from folks who are already alienated from Christianity, or at least from traditional churches.  I emphasize the key phrase “an initial hearing.”

My hunch is that this is likely to be part of trying to avoid lots of negative publicity that SoulForce (and presumably other pro-gay groups) were using to discredit or pressure that highly visible congregation (or now, set of congregations).  Negative PR that was at least potentially hurting Willow’s ability to attrack unchurched/dechurched folks, by discouraging them from even checking the church out by attending a service.

IOW, there is a time for making it perfectly clear, in an unambiguous way, that the whole pro-gay ideology is contrary to God’s will as it is emphatically and consistently set forth in Holy Scripture.  But that is probably not right at the start when you’re dealing with unbelievers (or ex-believers).

At least, that’s the relatively charitable interpretation of Willow’s move that I’m assuming here.  I don’t think they are really caving, although it might well appear that way to some (given Willow’s past strong association with EI).  Remember the famous 3rd chapter of Ecclesiastes, “There is a season for everything, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”  The question is, WHEN do you hit skeptical unbelievers with a strongly counter-cultural Christian belief, before their conversion or afterward?  I think it’s completely understandable that Hybels might want to wait until after they’ve come to hear him preach and had a chance to hear the gospel.

Also remember the admonition at the end of 1 Cor. 13, “Love hopes all things,” or tends to place the most hopeful and positive interpretation on what is said by a fellow Christian (without being naive, of course).

Remember, I just suggested we suspend judgment for a while, not that we avoid it permanently.  So I repeat, let’s not rush to condemn Hybels and Willow Creed here.  They deserve more from us.

David Handy+

[38] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 9-14-2011 at 03:08 PM · [top]

P.S. to Sarah (#32) and Matt (#35),

Please note that I very deliberately did NOT swallow the bait that Moot cheekily threw out in his #33.  That is, I very intentionally did not use it as an excuse to take up “the topic that shall remain nameless.”  I have no desire to rehash that one.

Cordially,
David Handy+

[39] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 9-14-2011 at 03:16 PM · [top]

Yeh, if Peter had only had Bill Hybels around he might’ve thought twice before making that foolhardy “murdering the Author of life” charge in the Temple…I mean, he may have wanted to bring that up later, after they had accepted Jesus into their hearts, but not right away, not to the unchurched. I mean, who really would listen to something like that?

[40] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-14-2011 at 03:18 PM · [top]

12, you are correct that the Anglicans here could learn much from Willow Creek and its progeny about effectively delivering the Good News. Being “right” on most issues means little if you are “wrong” on the call to effectively spread the Good News and to introduce the lost to Jesus Christ.

I also suspect that very few of the churches represented on this site are actively affiliated with Exodus; I know mine isn’t.

At the same time, Willow Creek could learn from US Anglicans about the dangers of incremental compromise on issues of faith. It may be the most important lesson we can convey to other denominations, perhaps the primary reason God let us go through this ordeal.  I also agree that this decision is less about resources than a deliberate decision by Willow Creek leadership to move under the radar on this issue. We have seen this for some time with other large churches, including those in the Willow Creek Association.

[41] Posted by Going Home on 9-14-2011 at 03:27 PM · [top]

Yeah, I’ve never had a problem with WC or Saddleback or Mars Hill or any other evangelical church that is effective at preaching the gospel. I think we can learn a lot from guys like Matt Chandler, Mark Driscol, Rick Warren and other large church pastors.

But notice that guys like Chandler and Driscol manage to build very large churches without “hiding” or lowering the decible level on certain offensive truths.

So, lets not try to make this about WC being effective at preaching the gospel while the dying traditionalist Anglicans are just upset about the strobe lights.

I could care less about strobe lights. If a church is holding to the full and complete truth of the gospel and is also effective at doing so in a way that draws a crowd, thanks be to God. I could really care less about whether they look Anglican.

But if a church seeks to gather a crowd by holding some true thing back—to look more appealing by cutting ties with an orthodox, faithful, organization for no other reason than that non-believers or heretics find offensive, then it is a compromise of the gospel.

[42] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-14-2011 at 03:45 PM · [top]

Then what exactly, pray tell, is the difference between Schultz and Hybels?  None.

[43] Posted by francis on 9-14-2011 at 03:59 PM · [top]

Okay, that didn’t go as planned. 

(slinking away in ignominy)..

[44] Posted by J Eppinga on 9-14-2011 at 04:03 PM · [top]

Nice try though, Moot (wink).

Matt,
I think you’re over-reacting here.  Are you really accusing Rick Warren or Nicki Gumbel of compromise here??  If so, I’d have to disagree.  But then, we probably would have to agree to disagree on LOTS of things, wouldn’t we?

Amicably,
David Handy+

[45] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 9-14-2011 at 04:22 PM · [top]

Apparently you did not read what I wrote NRA.

[46] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-14-2011 at 04:26 PM · [top]

Moot

Okay, that didn’t go as planned.

Hey, but it was a good try.  There was nothing wrong with the plan.  The execution just didn’t unfold as expected.  You might think of it like you moved P-K4 and NRA responded P-KR3.  It’s probably a sneaky gambit, and you should be careful before you boldly play P-Q4.

carl

[47] Posted by carl on 9-14-2011 at 04:34 PM · [top]

I still wonder how many churches represented here are active with Exodus or a similar ministry?  That doesnt change the merits of what Willow Creek actions, but may point out the construction material used in our own houses.

[48] Posted by Going Home on 9-14-2011 at 04:46 PM · [top]

Good Shepherd has an Exodus chapter, we support it, and one of their regional representatives is a member.

[49] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-14-2011 at 04:52 PM · [top]

So now if we can all agree that there are other very large churches—Mars Hill, The Village, even Saddleback—that have remained unapologetic in the face of cultural revulsion at biblical truth, then that fact tends to weaken the argument that WC is “the” standard at effectively witnessing to the gospel and so stick in the mud Anglicans should simply give them a pass.

[50] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-15-2011 at 05:05 AM · [top]

Thanks, Matt.

Yours is the first Anglican Church I have known to have this affiliation.  I suspect there are others, but I just havent seen it. 

After I joined the ACNA I was glad to be relieved from the internal church fight over human sexuality, and there has been no focus on this particular issue from the pulpit in the succeeding years. The political and cultural landscape has shifted so fast that I struggle to know how the church and parachurch organizations can effectively communicate the truth on this issue. I know from involvement in other Christian organizations that I am not the only one grappling with this.

[51] Posted by Going Home on 9-15-2011 at 06:09 AM · [top]

Reparative therapy programs and faith-based change ministries are a tremendous threat to the homosexual movement because they work, and the activists know that they work. Hence, they must be discredited.

Their agenda is quite simple: Same sex attraction is how they were born, and it cannot be resisted. Why even try? After all, sex is nothing more than a recreational activity.

Shame on Willow Creek.

[52] Posted by Ralph on 9-15-2011 at 06:12 AM · [top]

carl (#47),

Now I feel really welcomed back here at SF.  I’ve missed our fun little bouts of mutual teasing. 

But it was a special delight to see you using a chess analogy.  It’s my favorite hobby.  But just for the record, I would never respond to P-K4 (actually, these days we’d say e2-e4) with P=KR3 (=h6).  When I have the Black side, I always play either e5 (aiming for the Ruy Lopez or Spanish Game) or else c5 (the Sicilian Defense).

Cordially,
David Handy+

[53] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 9-15-2011 at 07:25 AM · [top]

Hi Going Home,

I think that’s right. I am sure there are more Anglican churches affiliated with Exodus. I’ve known some of them but cannot name them off the top of my head.

[54] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-15-2011 at 07:33 AM · [top]

[Comment deleted. NRA, you will keep your comments on topic. The topic is not your return to Stand Firm nor whether or not you perceive insult. That is for the moderators to determine. There was nothing insulting in anything anyone wrote to you. Back to the topic at hand.]

[55] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 9-15-2011 at 07:46 AM · [top]

Celebrate Recovery (or ‘CR’, an orthodox Biblical Christian 12 Step program developed at Saddleback Church (Rick Warren/John Baker) is another ministry that incorporates care, support and accountability for people with sexual identity confusion, incontinence, and addiction as well as substance addiction and childhood trauma/abuse issues.

CR does not substitute for therapy, which is often needed, but is designed to augment it.  And CR is an ‘inclusive’ ministry in the very best sense of The Word. (I Corinthians 6:9-20). 

Truth is, Soul Force and the so-called Reverend Love, want to exclude and exempt sexual impulse and gratification from GOD’s dominion.  Like the so-called Bishop Spong, they want to declare sex ‘adiaphora’ (of no spiritual, moral, ethical consequence) despite Scripture’s clear message and the clearly dangerous and unhealthy consequences to which science, medicine and statistics consistently bear witness. 

The position of Spong, Soul Force, Shori, Obama/Jennings take in regard to sexuality is irresponsible, criminal and unconscionable. 

The pansexualists are really supporting the idea that a person should follow the tyranny of his feelings, perceptions and conditioned responses, not what is safe, holy and good, according to GOD’s Word or science and reality.  Human feelings change.  Human sense of identity changes throughout a lifetime.  Only the IAM GOD has a stable, eternally unchanging Identity.  It is from GOD that we can gain our true identity and best, healthiest self…through surrender of the fallen fleshly inborn nature and learning to live true healthy, holy lives within the boundaries set by GOD’s Word, Law, Precepts, Statutes, etc.  (Psalm 19, Psalm 119)

At Celebrate Recovery, I have heard several powerful testimonies of GOD setting people free from same-sex attraction and sexual addiction and giving them new lives in Christ.

At the core of sexual/gender/identity confusion is a huge painful deficit and unfulfilled need that only GOD can and should fill.  Mere sex can’t do the job.

Obsessive/compulsive behaviors, sexual incontinence, substance use/abuse (as well as rage, violence, control, domination, greed) are the soul’s mistaken and often rebellious attempt to fill that void with something other than GOD and His Way of Truth, Love, Life, Freedom, Peace and Joy.

Bill Hybels hopefully has a plan and program for caring for sexual sin that is not compromising and is as effective as Exodus, Celebrate Recovery and recommends reparative therapy (learning why/how/where the powerful same-sex feelings, pain have come, re-learning healthy responses, how to find joy in Christ), or his church will fail those who are hurting, and worse, will fail Christ as well as dying itself.  Read the first chapters of Revelation - a church that approves sin will have its light extinguished by Christ.  That is a promise.

To approve and compromise with sin is to become polluted salt or to serve dung, scorpions or stones instead of bread, living water, oil.  Compromise cannot produce health, transformation and life in Christ.  Compromise produces Anglican Fudge (TM) which is a human by-product that smells to high heaven.

[56] Posted by St. Nikao on 9-15-2011 at 08:12 AM · [top]

St. Nikao
I agree - CR is a wonderful ministry.

[57] Posted by Jackie on 9-15-2011 at 08:28 AM · [top]

Moderators (about my deleted #55),

OK.  I accept your decision.  But I hope you’ll allow me to repost the end part, making clear to all readers that my support for EI is without reservation, whereas my support for Willow Creek is far more qualified.

My wife was for over ten years a key leader and trainer in the Living Waters program of our local Exodus chapter in Richmond (called Set Free), and thus I’ve been privileged to know some ex-gays who’ve been gloriously set free by Christ (as episcopalinated was).  I was also blessed to have as my brother-in-law (again through my wife) the remarkable early Exodus pioneer Joe Hallett, the founder and director of Outpost, the Exodus chapter in Minneapolis (which is the San Francisco of the upper Midwest).  Alas, Joe contracted AIDS before his conversion, and his liberation from the gay lifestyle in which he’d been trapped for over a decade, and sadly Joe has now gone to his eternal reward.  But he was one of the finest, most thoroughly converted and transformed disciples of Jesus that I’ve ever known.  I miss him sorely.

All that is just to provide what I hope is a relevant context for interpreting my earlier comments above.  I am an enthusiastic supporter of the Exodus movement, and so I naturally join others in deploring this move by Willow.  OTOH, my support for Willow Creek is far more qualified.  I do admire Bill Hybels greatly in many ways, and I think even more highly of Rick Warren and Nicki Gumbel (and yes, I respect Matt Chandler and Mark Driscoll too, among other magachurch pastors).  My serious reservations about all those guys and their various churches has to do primarily with how very unCatholic they are.

I hope that’s helpful clarification for some readers.  But I apologize for the earlier part of my deleted comment.  I will now bow out of this thread.

David Handy+

[58] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 9-15-2011 at 08:46 AM · [top]

After making the comment back at #19 and observing the comment thread since then, I think I should follow up.

First, regarding the Exodus Church Association: kudos to you are are involved with it.  It didn’t exist when I was going through my season of healing back in the 1990s.  The association is meant to be for churches that support the mission of Exodus and are safe places for people that want help - nothing more, nothing less.

Supporting those seeking help (whether for themselves, or those with a loved one and not sure what to do about it) can be done whether a church officially affiliates with Exodus or not.  Some of the best ministry in this area I’m aware of has come from churches that are not in the Exodus association (for example, Church of the Resurrection in Illinois and the Virginia parishes).  A church can support a local Exodus group (with financial support or use of its facilities) and not be part of the official Exodus network.  Or they can effectively minister to whomever walks in the door.  One of the best ministry stories I’ve heard of (back in the mid-1980s, when ministry to the sexually broken was much less common) was of a lesbian who accepted Christ in her small, rural English town.  She attended a small Baptist church, and felt God leading her to share her background at an evening service.  The church’s response: God loves you, we love you.  We can’t say we understand all you have been through, but whatever we can do to support your healing, we will do.  And they did.

I posted the quote from Alan Chambers because, according to Exodus, the reason given by Willow Creek for dissolving a decades-long relationship was the sudden decision (following a Soulforce visit) that change was impossible.  While Willow Creek has still maintained a sort of Biblical stand on the issue (e.g. abstinence/chastity) and still got grilled for it from Change.org, I think they made a grievous error.  While change cannot be assumed or demanded, it can happen.  To deny that it does is to deny the work of the Holy Spirit.  If the “inquest committee” at Willow Creek had bothered to make a short 20 mile drive south to Wheaton and Church of the Resurrection, they would have found living, breathing examples more than willing to talk about God’s work in their lives.

[59] Posted by Reformed Wanderer on 9-15-2011 at 09:09 AM · [top]

Reformed Wanderer:

Thanks for another grace-filled contribution to this thread.  What we need to remember is that all of the tools in God’s toolbox are there to be used when appropriate and it‘s never a case of “one size fits all.”

Perhaps there aren’t many who read the 19th chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel and become overjoyed at the discovery that they too can become “eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake,” but that’s what happened to me.  A commitment to the intensely liberating experience of a chaste and celibate lifestyle has left me feeling anything but miserable and unfulfilled.

We must avoid the disastrous mistake of believing that marriage somehow “cures” sexual disorder.  It does no such thing, and a fair amount of collateral damage has been generated by those who imagined otherwise.  A self-awareness based on rigorous honesty is necessary at all times, along with a steadfast reliance upon God‘s grace above all else.

But reparative therapy and wise counseling, along with prayer for deliverance and inner healing, play an important part in enabling those whom God Himself has called to serve as spouses and parents to live out their high vocation.  I’ve also been blessed to know many of those people and any meaningful approach to recovery from the devastating effects of a homosexual lifestyle must be designed to cover all the bases.  There is hope for one and all, regardless of what particular form it may take.

[60] Posted by episcopalienated on 9-15-2011 at 09:56 AM · [top]

it’s the kiss of death when it comes to winning an initial hearing from folks who are already alienated from Christianity

The concern is that if soulforce can be so successful at tarnishing the reputation of a legitimate organization, it will do the same for Willow Creek if it becomes too successful in this area.

Perhaps a change of tactics are in order? The activists have succeeded in driving a wedge between people with unwanted SSAs and Christianity. Shouldn’t we be concentrating on driving a wedge between people with unwanted SSAs and gay activists posing as Christians? These are after all people whose ultimate loyalty lies not with Christ, but with the urges in their head. Their agenda is self serving, they do NOT have the best interests of those at heart for whom they claim to speak. This can all be done compassionately and not callously as Falwell or Phelps have done in the past. But continual capitulation when activists manage to successfully demonize a group does not seem to be a good strategy.

[61] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 9-15-2011 at 12:36 PM · [top]

Perhaps there aren’t many who read the 19th chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel and become overjoyed at the discovery that they too can become “eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake,”

Indeed.  Reminds me of that saying I learned at Cursillo:  If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.

[62] Posted by Jackie on 9-15-2011 at 06:01 PM · [top]

61—Just a sidenote: I would not lump Falwell and Phelps together. I often disagreed and even cringed with Falwells written and public statements, but I am sure there were good parts of his ministry. Phelps, on the other hand, is on the other team.

[63] Posted by Going Home on 9-16-2011 at 12:28 PM · [top]

I agree with you, Going Home.  Phelps is beyond the pale.

[64] Posted by Jackie on 9-16-2011 at 01:31 PM · [top]

Jackie - any word back yet from Willow Creek?

[65] Posted by Branford on 9-16-2011 at 01:36 PM · [top]

Sadly, no.  I did receive a confirmation that they had received my request and someone would get back to me.  I keep hoping they will offer up an explanation. If I dont’ hear from them by Monday, I will try again.  Has anyone else attempted to contact them?

[66] Posted by Jackie on 9-16-2011 at 01:48 PM · [top]

Clarification: I was trying to make the distinction that an organization like Willow Creek can distance themselves from people whose rhetoric can be uncalled for, but they should not just distance themselves from legitimate organizations that activists happen to be able to successfully demonize.

I think that Falwell occassionally used rhetoric that was uncalled for and that’s all I meant, but I agree, otherwise Falwell is the opposite of Phelps; never did he angle to achieve Phelps’ stated aim, ie. to be God’s agent of “heart hardening” which would result in reprobates being damned (yes, he does admit that regularly).

[67] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 9-16-2011 at 01:50 PM · [top]

In reviewing the original CT article, I am struck by several things.  The beginning of the article takes almost what I would call a “he said/he said” tone.  Vaudry, of the WC Elder response team, states that the Church’s “decision was not intended as a social or political statement, but rather an indication of “a season of reviewing and clarifying some of our affiliations with outside organizations.” 

EI’s Chambers then responds, “The choice to end our partnership is definitely something that shines a light on a disappointing trend within parts of the Christian community which is that there are Christians who believe like one another who aren’t willing to stand with one another, simply because they’re afraid of the backlash people will direct their way if they are seen with somebody who might not be politically correct.”

In doing some research on EI’s website, I see that in all of Illinois, EI only has 2 ministries, 2 counselors, and 5 churches listed as affiliates on their website.  This greatly surprised me as in our area alone we have a great number of large churches (500+) and several other “Mega/Multisite” Churches.  Why have none of them stepped up to become affiliates? 

I can tell you (first hand) that WC like many churches has deeply felt the effects of the falling economy.  Over the last 3 years the staff has been “trimmed” by about 1/3rd.  WC has done its best to maintain its ministries to all those who struggle with Sexual Purity and with Same-sex Attractions, as well as Children, Youth, Family and Marriage ministries, Divorce and Special Needs Ministries, and many more.

For those who might think otherwise, I can say as a participating member of WC for the past 8 years, that to assume that this was a unilateral decision handed down by Pastor Hybels to the church would be wrong. The break with EI was not entered into without much prayer, discussion, and consideration of the Elders and the Pastoral and Ministry Staffs.  I also know firsthand that WC has not ever abandoned the Biblical position on human sexuality.

Furthermore I can tell you that Vaudry’s statement is consistent with what I have experienced attending WC.  FWIW, I have never experienced WC as being “afraid of public backlash.”  Ironically “backlash” seems to find us (from all sides) no matter what we do.  And it is VERY consistent (and perhaps a little annoying) with the almost “analytical/corporate” way WC reviews, evaluates, and changes their programing every-so-many years.

Full disclosure—WC was the place Dh and I landed when we were making our move out of TEC.  They welcomed us as “seekers of another sort” and while many aspects of the place drive us crazy, we are deeply grateful to them for their absolute commitment to the Bible as the source of all truth and salvation in Jesus Christ alone. 

Jackie—I’m sorry that you have yet to hear from someone at WC.  Unfortunately I don’t know of any “secret phone numbers” to call to get you a response but I will try to make some inquiries this weekend.

Susan Jones Engelhardt

[68] Posted by Summersnow on 9-16-2011 at 04:46 PM · [top]

Susan,
It is my hope that a faithful church like WC will recognize the damage they have done to a fellow Christian ministry and clarify their position as budgetary only.

[69] Posted by Jackie on 9-16-2011 at 05:45 PM · [top]

Jackie,

I will pray that someone responds to you soon with a clear answer.

[70] Posted by Summersnow on 9-16-2011 at 07:13 PM · [top]

Sarah:

Nah—because anyone who *insists* that it “does not work” ever—without a controlled variable closed-lab study—is clearly functioning under a religious worldview that *forbids* that it *ever* work at all.

But I didn’t say “ever”, so your are once again fighting a strawman of your own devising.

I don’t have a dogmatic position on this; if science does establish a specific cause of homosexuality, it makes no difference to me if the answer turns out to be a matter of genetics, or biochemistry or experience, or a combination of factors. Likewise, it makes no difference to me if science finds a way to unequivocally alter a person’s orientation. So I am not dogmatically attached to the idea that sexual orientation is forever immutable.

The issue is what is happening now, not in the future. Episcopalienated said in the OP:

My own view of reparative therapy is that there are two opposite but related errors people can make about it. One is to argue that this form of treatment is fraudulent, or even downright harmful, and simply doesn’t work. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I’m not saying that RP is fraudent, nor that it is harmful - but I am saying that there is no solid evidence that RT works, and the little evidence in support of it is seriously flawed. (Note, I am only talking about the claim of being able to change a person’s orientation; RT may well help someone to change their behaviour by supporting them in adopting a heterosexual lifestyle or becoming celibate).

If Willow Creek have come to the same conclusion, that would justify them distancing themselves from EI. And I don’t see that WC should be considered ‘sell-outs’ for doing so. It’s not as if sexual orientation mutability, EI’s position. is biblically sanctioned, is it?

[71] Posted by Gnu Ordure on 9-16-2011 at 07:31 PM · [top]

RE: “which is that it doesn’t work” . . .

Sorry, Gnu—you didn’t need to use the word “ever”—that word was implicitly clear in your initial comment.

RE: “. . . but I am saying that there is no solid evidence that RT works . . . “

Good to see you’re now pulling back from your initially ideologically-oriented blanket assertion that “it doesn’t work.” 

Of course, as I noted, there will never be any controlled variable closed-lab studies on reparative therapy so by your standards there will never be “solid evidence” but rather merely qualitative evidence, which people will either accept or not, depending on their foundational worldview, values, and basic beliefs about change, transformation, and sanctification.

Since Willow Creek does not share the same faith as Gnu, I’m fairly confident that they have come to no conclusions regarding the effectiveness of reparative therapy, but rather have made their decisions on rather less noble and more cowardly bases.

Regardless, this thread isn’t about whether reparative therapy works and comments on that topic will be deleted.

[72] Posted by Sarah on 9-16-2011 at 10:30 PM · [top]

“I have contacted Willow Creek and asked for an explanation.  If they affirm a biblical approach to this matter, no problem.  I do think they owe it to Exodus to clear the misunderstanding in the press.  If, however, they have begun to practice the two step, the membership needs to know.”—Jackie

“My point is that we need to be careful about whether or not we “buy the excuse” with less than all the facts.  We may be calling something an excuse when it may not be.  Until I see more info that Willow has changed its approach, I’m willing to stick with them and give them the benefit of the doubt - in a spirit of Christian charity of course.”—Townsend Wadill+

During the Leadership Summit, Pastor Hybels stated simply and directly that, “We challenge homosexuals and heterosexuals to live out the sexual ethics taught in Scriptures, which encourage sexual expression between a man and a woman in the context of marriage. The Bible prescribes sexual abstinence and purity for everyone else.”

Link to Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=MFhSfr13Y6o#!

Having “sat in the seats” each weekend—and midweek as well, I can tell you that Willow is clear and consistent in it’s affirmation and teaching of the Biblical definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.  Any behavior outside that definition is sin.  Period.

The break with EI came in 2009.  Yet, Willow has continued to maintain weekly support groups for those struggling with same-sex attractions, as well as groups for those who have a family member struggling with SSA.  I see no flagging in the commitment of WC to address this issue head on.

Let me suggest that we believe Willow Creek’s words on this issue—just as they stand.  Give them full weight, at face value.  No ulterior motives or hidden agendas, no code, or hidden meanings.  Their “yes” is “yes”, their “no” is “no” until proven by their own actions and not someone else’s assumptions regarding their motives.

[73] Posted by Summersnow on 9-17-2011 at 09:51 AM · [top]

My question to WC is - If the roles were reversed and EI had disaffiliated from WC in the same manner as to stain its good name, wouldn’t you want EI to immediately rectify any misuderstanding?  Isn’t it the Christian thing to do?  Silence can be deadly.

[74] Posted by Jackie on 9-17-2011 at 01:29 PM · [top]

IF Willow Creek actually stated that people with same sex attraction cannot change, THEN they are in grave error according to I Corinthians 6:9-20.

Period.

[75] Posted by St. Nikao on 9-17-2011 at 02:12 PM · [top]

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