A Few Thoughts on the Recent Newspaper Article "Pastor No Longer Welcome at MV High"

Update: I was recently informed by the Skagit Vallery Herald that they will not be putting this article online due to its controversial nature.
This morning the local newspaper ran a story titled “Pastor No Longer Welcome at MV High” referring to my recent controversy with the GSA. I will put up a link to the article as soon as it becomes available online. I know that the circulation of the Skagit Valley Herald is probably in the thousands and the readership of my blog is at least in the 10’s (ha! ha!), but in any case here are a few of my thoughts in no particular order.
1) I’m grateful for the critics. When involved in conflict, it is easy to vilify the opponent in one’s own heart and even to come to a level of hatred for the individual(s) and I don’t ever want to be like that. While I categorically disagree with my critics, I am still grateful for them if for no other reason than that they continue to sharpen me with their criticism and force me to return to God’s Word as the lamp unto my feet and the light unto my path (Psalm 119:105). I’m reminded of the words of Psalm 119:71 – “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.”
2) I did refer to homosexuality as an “abomination,” however this comment was part of a Scripture quotation. Leviticus 20:13 – “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination…” I also quoted Leviticus 18:22 – “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” The outrage over these passages is simply a reminder to me of the offensiveness of Scripture. When God presents truth he does not take our sensibilities into account, rather he calls us to repent of them and turn to him.
3) I think Cathy Pfahl (probably my greatest critic in this whole thing) summed it all up very nicely: “He told the kids that if they would turn to Jesus, they could be forgiven for their sin of homosexuality.” For the full account of what I said you can read the article I wrote for the paper here.
4) My favorite quote from the article is, “Buell was unstoppable…’there was nothing anyone could do to stop him'”. I suppose I like these lines so much because they remind me of the great preachers from the past (Luther, Edwards, Machen, Athanasius, etc.), who would not be silenced in their defense of the truth. I’m by no means one of these men, but still the quote makes me smile.
5) I had no idea that Methodism had four sources of authority (Scripture, experience, tradition and reason). I wonder what John Wesley (the founder of Methodism) would think of that??? Actually I already know, “I am a creature of a day. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God. I want to know one thing: the way to heaven. God himself has condescended to teach me the way. He has written it down in a book. Oh, give me that book! At any price give me the book of God. Let me be a man of one book. – John Wesley” (emphasis mine).
6) As I read through the article, I couldn’t help but get the impression that everything I said and did was understood to be extremely foolish. The idea that you should take the Bible literally sounds foolish. The fact that not telling these homosexual students the truth would have been more damaging than risking their hurt feelings sounds foolish. The quotes from Mr. Anderson (the principle) about it being a challenge for me to come back to the school because of what I’ve done makes me sound foolish. Even the lines about being unstoppable ultimately are an attempt to make me look foolish or at worst like a raving lunatic. Fortunately, I find myself in good company. 1 Corinthians 1:18 – “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
1 Corinthians 1:21-25 “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
So there it is, I’m sure that there will be letters to the editor and all of the usual hullabaloo over this kind of thing. Some people will hate me, others will like me but in the end I take comfort in Romans 14:4, speaking of the believer, “…It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”
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July 12 2008 08:20 pm | Blog

11 Responses to “A Few Thoughts on the Recent Newspaper Article "Pastor No Longer Welcome at MV High"”

  1. The Vander Arks on 12 Jul 2008 at 11:32 pm #

    Just for the record. I am one of the people that like you because of this.

  2. usvstheworld on 14 Jul 2008 at 1:10 am #

    yes, way to martyr yourself for the truth. i am sure you accomplished exactly what you were truly hoping to accomplish. what that really was is only between you and the God you claim to serve. i hope your true intentions and the way you appeared to others are at least in the same ballpark. but no matter, you were loud, offensive and immovable… exactly the opposite of what Christ chose to be according to Philiipians 2, a slave.

    i hope that when you are alone you can truly look yourself in the mirror and know that you are doing all of this for God’s glory, and not for your own grandstanding satisfaction.

  3. Drew on 14 Jul 2008 at 1:47 am #

    “usvstheworld”, I suppose that it’s easy to criticize someone who you don’t know about an article that you haven’t read, in a state in which you don’t live.

    Since you implied the question, I have tremendous peace with God, not because I am anything great but because Christ saved a wretched sinner such as myself.

  4. The Vander Arks on 14 Jul 2008 at 3:20 am #


    I do not have as much confidence in you as i do the scripture which you read while at the school. Either way I know that your conversation with the Christian club was one of instructions and with the GSA one of love and sincere compassion, concerned for their salvation and a need for repentance just like you, I and usvstheworld need to repent in all of our sin. Pride, greed, sloth, lust, and so many more that only the Lord can see and only He can forgive.

  5. usvstheworld on 14 Jul 2008 at 10:32 am #

    well, i only know as much as you put on this blog. i lived in the state for a long time, in fact doing ministry in said state for a few years, and i think i actually did read the article.

    yes, it is quite easy for me to criticize you when you welcomed such criticism in you post! you said you were grateful for your critics, for the noble reason that it ‘sharpens you.’ my questions were sincere based on your attitude toward this whole ordeal. you can ignore my questions, by announcing your wretchedness before Christ, but i highly doubt that i am the only one who to whom these questions came having read the post or the article, or having followed this whole debacle. from the beginning, i have wondered why you chose this topic and this manner of evangelism. but i guess it is par for the course these days to be passionate about homosexuality. whatever. it is totally your right to choose the things on which you focus in your ministry.
    i know you recently returned from Mexico… a much MUCH nobler pursuit of Emmanuel’s and your time and energy (which I was praying for, and there were some neat stories.)
    thanks for your prayers too.

  6. Drew on 14 Jul 2008 at 5:09 pm #

    “usvstheworld”, I would be surprised if you’d read the most recent article as it is not online yet, so you would have had to have it faxed or scanned and e-mailed to you???

    I’m most surprised by the tone of your original comment (“the God whom you claim to serve”, “martyr yourself”, etc.). I’ve never known you to be cruel or mean, but apparently this topic has changed that. I welcome your criticism but those kinds of comments sure make it hard to listen.

    In any case, I’m happy to continue to disagree with you, although I wish that we could do so in a healthier manner.

  7. Buffi on 14 Jul 2008 at 8:22 pm #

    I’ve said it before and now I’m saying it again…I am proud to have my children and myself under your teaching and your passion for the TRUTH. (Which I know from experience you do with nothing but love.)
    I am praying that true Christians will start contending for the truth…ALL of the truth and not just what they want to pick and choose out of scripture to be passionate about. Even if it means we have to “hurt” someone (their pride) by exposing their sinfulness…better to have an injured ego here than spend eternity in hell.

  8. usvstheworld on 14 Jul 2008 at 8:57 pm #

    first, i don’t mind if you refer to me by my name. lol. it’s just that when i sign in, i want people to be able to see who i am, so they can click on the link to my blog. not trying to be weird by using “usvstheworld” as my name or anything.
    second, i wasn’t trying to be cruel or mean. but you have to understand that how you hear the tone of my voice is how the tone of some of the things you say is heard by others. you simply refer to it as the “offensiveness of the gospel, or of Scripture.” Saying “the God whom you claim to serve” was argumentative, but not cruel, I don’t think. But, if you were hurt by it then, definitely, I’m sorry. It’s just that I really am offended by some of the things you say and that is compounded by what I mentioned above: what I call offensive you call the Gospel. so you can see where we are at an impasse.
    when I was doing a different blog, people said things like this to me all the time. when you post about homosexuality, i believe, you have to expect these kinds of responses. and, looking at your blog statistics, you spend quite a lot of time on it. Aside from special events, such as the Shepherd’s Conference or the Mexico Mission trip, and generic categories like “Videos” and “Good Posts,” and “Book Reviews,” (So basically when Category refers to a topic of theological or ministerial significance) homosexuality is ranked second, behind “Devotional.” my quesion is, is this where your real focus lies, and why?
    so, the bottom line is for me, regarding my posts, is that i would like you to imagine your posts and articles being equally offensive to myself and others. I know that you typically don’t see your beliefs as offensive, except in terms of them being “the gospel,” but it is this qualification that makes them hurtful. you are saying that I am offended at the gospel, when in reality I don’t see the gospel as being what you claim it to be.

  9. Drew on 14 Jul 2008 at 9:36 pm #

    Thanks for the clarification Aaron, it helps to hear where you are coming from. I would add that I am equally offended by many, if not most, of your theological positions but fortunately I still believe it’s possible to engage in a dialogue over the issues and still enjoy each other’s company when it’s all said and done.

    In response to your question, this is definitely a very small part of my ministry, although recently it has become very public. The reason I chose to engage on this level is because the GSA brought up the subject. They brought in a pastor to give a full defense of her position that the Bible is in full support of homosexuality. It’s plain to me that using a literal-grammatical hermeneutic (which I know is already a point of contention for us), this is a terrible distortion of the facts so I chose to address it. As you saw with the Mexico stuff, I’ve got lots of other things going on and in the end this isn’t really that big of a deal, but because it’s so public it probably looks significantly out of proportion.

    I listened to one of Mark Dever’s sermons from T4G on Changing the Gospel, so I would definitely shy away from calling this “the gospel” (at least I should, I’ve porbably made some mistakes in that area). I would call this more a matter of biblical authority.

    In the end, we’ve already hashed most of this out in previous comment threads and I think we know where our differences lie. A friend of mine said that you know you’re having a civil disagreement when you can say, “I couldn’t possibly disagree with you more, but I’d like to buy the next round of coffee as we continue to talk.” You’re too far away to get coffee with right now, but next time you’re in town, let’s go get some coffee and I’m buying.

  10. usvstheworld on 14 Jul 2008 at 10:33 pm #

    i know my comments were rough. but i also knew that you would face them in stride… which you did. you seem to have an answer for everything, which is something i noticeably lack.

    i will most definitely take you up on your offer.

    Blessings, and please feel free to participate whenever you want on my blog, as you already have done so. thanks for your prayers.

    one last thing. i learned that when disagreeing with someone, one must be able to repeat his opponent’s position such that his opponent replies: “yes, that is exactly what I mean…” Good rule to follow.

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