BY REV THOMAS LITTLETON @ Blue Collar Saints
Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to change the churches’ Biblical stand on LGBTQ. In 2014, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) came to the deep south with $8.5 million to push Project One America with “A Christian Conversation Guide” training manual to organize and mobilize the LGBTQ community into the churches. The Reformation Project and gay activist Mathew Vines have since made their way into many churches and onto Bible Colleges campuses like Biola University. Just this week a LGBTQ group won Faculty approval on the Southern Baptist-affiliated Samford University. Why is this happening?
Distracted and Played
While the Church is being manipulated and distracted, pre K-12 schools are being invaded by the LGBTQ. The HRC with its “Welcoming Schools,” the Southern Poverty Leadership Conference’s “Teaching Tolerance” and Planned Parenthood’s “Comprehensive Sexuality Education” are making rapid headway into coercive compliance to the new norms and redefining /countering everything we teach our children about family and sexual purity. Meanwhile, church leaders have done nothing to inform or rally Christians to oppose this.
What SHOULD surprise and SHOCK us is the inside facilitators who have been collaborating with the LGBTQ and exacerbating the issues. During war time such activity would be considered treasonous and those involved dealt with harshly. Looking at some hard facts will hopefully provide opportunity for those involved to step up and respond.
Behind the Rainbow Door – Is this an Orgy of Collaborators?
Civilitas Group – Can civility and common ground be the answer to aggressors wanting to redefine marriage, sexuality, gender and faith for our children’s generation?
In January 2015, a gathering of evangelical “thought leaders” organized by Doug Birdsall of the Lausanne Movement agreed that lack of civility and polarization is the biggest threat to society that exists today. Launching their civility campaign based on the 2012 compromise of Dan Cathy CEO of Chik-Fil-A with the leaders of Campus Pride LGBTQ activist group, the Civilitas board is covenanting to make nice and lead the way to saving society by civil conversations, finding common ground and forming collaborations. Though settling the LGBTQ skirmish of a chicken retailer was motivated more to address PR troubles allowing expansion of its market base, it is held up as the model of Christian civility. Civilitas also chooses to ignore that redefining marriage, sexuality and gender provide a more CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER to American /Western society.
Also signed on to Civilitas are Fuller Seminary, Wheaton College, and BIOLA University leadership. Biola only a few months later invited “gay theology” activist Mathew Vines to their campus and Biola’s apologetics department soon launched a “Rethink” of how apologetics approaches issues like LGBTQ. Tim Keller of the PCA, Rick Warren of the SBC, Jim Daly of Focus on the Family coupled with the major players of the Obama Faith Based Partnership advisory team are also Civilitas Board members. The group agreed to the development and use of a “Civilitas Theory of Social Change” by the sociology departments of Princeton, Yale and the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. The IASC boasts intellectual inspiration from the famed Marxist Frankfurt Institute of Social Research. Interestingly, the IASC director, James Davison Hunter, is credited with having popularized the use of the phrase “Culture War” to describe the past (and touted as non-civil) approach of evangelicals to the activist charged climate which such think tanks are themselves helping to fuel.
The Southern Baptist ERLC head, Russell Moore, began his ascent to being a key evangelical spokesperson in 2013 and quickly made waves when he declared “the culture wars (a term promoted by IASC’s Hunter) were OVER and WE LOST. We should back off, make nice (espousing Civility) and just love our gay and lesbian neighbors.” Soon thereafter Moore led the SBC and ERLC conference on “Homosexuality and the Future of Marriage” where a host of change agents with new language and talking points schooled the church on how shameful its attitudes toward homosexuality have been. The conference came complete with Moore mentor, Dr. Albert Mohler of Southern Seminary, apologizing for 2,000 years of Christians’ being “WRONG on the issue of sexual orientation”. This was a powerful emotional appeasement yet lacking any scientific or biological basis for such an assertion. Also came the abandonment of Reparative Therapy which is a broad term regarding counseling for people wanting to exit the LGBTQ lifestyle. This term may be applied to any Biblical or pastoral counseling that does not affirm homosexuality as a natural desire. A federal bill is currently in play to outlaw Reparative Therapy nationwide as FRAUD. The ERLC meetings also included broad new language for homosexuals such as Same Sex Attracted (SSA) Christians, immediately facilitating acceptance of the more controversial “gay Christian” and “Homosexual Christian” terminology.
Though the conversations ignored their presence, activist groups like the Human Rights Campaign, Reformation Project, Gay Christian Network, were physically present and welcomed by the ERLC, Dr. Moore and his staff to the conference. The Human Rights Campaign was even promised a private session to meet with Russell Moore. The ERLC staffers boasted to HRC and other activists that Moore as head of the SBC’s ERLC was “rebranding the organization”. Moore is not finished declaring the loss of the much vilified Culture War or with rehearsing and representing the talking points of those who appointed him. (a private point I personally asked Dr. Albert Mohler in November 2014 – once it was apparent to him that the “marriage battle was lost” if he would then help the church rally against Planned Parenthood’s sexuality education CSE. I found Dr. Mohler was quite familiar with CSE and referred me to the offices of the ERLC with my concerns, which were quickly dismissed and met with ongoing disinterest.)
Now the Human Rights Campaign and others stand ready to mandate Comprehensive Sexuality Education at the federal, state and local levels. If you are in this struggle with some understanding of the harmful, abusive, demonic origins of encouraged sexual exploration and promiscuity at “whatever age a student feels they are ready” and yet are wondering where your pastoral denominational leaderships are and IF they are aware – at least in the case of the Southern Baptist two top tier leaders – they know and appear to have given the order to ignore constituents and stand down.
Further Southern Baptist Collaboration – Is the money worth the cost?
In 2009, Dr. Frank Page, a two-time President of the Southern Baptist Convention and present CEO of the Executive Committee, joined the Faith Based Partnership Board and Obama Reform Team of the Bush-era Faith-Based Partnership programs. Brought to the table to develop the outline for these “partnerships for the common good” were a host of interfaith leaders and representatives from the Human Rights Campaign and leading LGBTQ funder, the ARCUS Foundation.
Later in the administration a transgendered board member was added.
Dr. Page and other conservatives agreed to this collaboration for the common good with possibly the most progressive White House in U.S. history and its activist partners who helped defeat any and all Religious Freedom Restoration Acts and legislation or the inclusion of any Religious Exemptions which would protect the religious liberties of conservative churches and ministries involved in Faith-Based Partnership funding. How much of our current threat to Religious Liberty for Americans can be directly related to these very partnerships? Did the “Stand Down” orders to evangelicals develop from a “Theory of Impetus” among this rainbow coalition of diverse high level partnerships? Thus far, the Trump administration has failed to address these ongoing threats to ministries which have become government contractors by taking on Faith-Based Partnership tax funding. If the Trump administration continues to fund these programs with massive amounts of tax dollars, it is a serious tipping point on this trajectory.
Mega Church Mania Partners – Leadership Network and Hartford Institute led by Scott Thumma
Leadership Network recruits, resources, promotes and often helps fund the church plantsof the best and brightest up and coming evangelical leaders. Bothersome distinctions like theology and doctrine do not matter as Leadership Network has created a very large footprint in the evangelical community over the last 33 years. With its “invitation only” approach for “innovative /entrepreneurial pastors” few outside its circles could have known its reach or goals until the publishing of the founder, Bob Buford’s book “Drucker and Me”.
The Faith Based Partnership / Multi Sector Collaborations of management theorist, Peter Drucker, are central to Leadership Network’s training and view of the Church as solely a social organization that creates community. Doctrinal teaching and promotion of individual salvation are determined to be problematic, divisive and down played “for the common good.” It is no secret that the much lauded and loathed Emergent Church movement, which further divided evangelicals along “postmodern” lines, was the construct, product and proud offspring of direct Leadership Network influence. Conservative denominations saw new superstar preachers created within their camps in the same fashion.
Where it Gets Weird
Leadership Network has long collaborated with the Hartford Institute, based at the Hartford Seminary, CT, and its head researcher, Scott Thumma. Trend setting and tracking is done in collaborative research on church growth, mega churches and evangelical / cultural /statically driven work of Leadership Network and Hartford Institute. Scott Thumma of Hartford Institute and CEO of Leadership Network, Dave Travis along with in house LN researcher Warren Bird co-author books and white papers on such trends which they helped promote. Examples:
Where the disturbing part of this collaboration comes into play is when you consider the additional work of the Hartford Institute—its “Gay Religion” research and efforts to wed conservative evangelicals to an antithetical homosexual identity. Scott Thumma and Hartford not only work with leading organizations of influence among evangelical churches but also promote the gaying of all religious traditions. Scott’s work in particular is focused on “Negotiating a (Gay) Religious Identity: The Case of the Gay Evangelical”.
This effort which has been in play since at least the 1980s, involves the acceptance of BOTH conservative Biblical /evangelical view of homosexuality AND being a homosexual evangelical Christian. This dichotomy is synthesized through a “process of socialization” facilitated and negotiated with the help of groups like Hartford Institute. The following quote from the 1991 article admits:
“For many Evangelical Christians, a homosexual life-style and a conservative religious identity are simply incompatible… Members accomplish this change (reconciling the two opposites) through identity negotiation and socialization. In other words, they negotiate the traditional religious identity, in very selective areas, through interaction with Good News (the case study group cited in the article). Members are reconciled to their gayness, but still retain their Evangelical religious identity.”
Thus, Hartford Institute’s work helps a person who is LGBTQ to reconcile their conservative Biblical instruction with their gay identity, and the two acknowledged incompatible lifestyle become one. The individuals so helped are then sent to “evangelize straight churches” with this process.
So Civlitas, mentioned above, along with its partners, and Hartford Institute in its work with Leadership Network, are both engaging a process or theory of social change to move evangelical Christians toward common ground for the common good with the LGBTQ activism in our culture, the greater common goal appearing to be participation in the distribution of massive amounts of taxpayer funding.
Proclaiming the Generosity Gospel – Coaching us toward Significance – to redefine the Gospel and “harness” the churches / believers’ cash?
Bob Buford has boasted that much of his work with Leadership Network is focused on “turning the latent energy in American Christianity into active energy” including his assurance to Peter Karoff in Global Philanthropy Movement “The World We want” to “deliver legions of wealthy Christians primed to become big time philanthropists”. Thus, Christian giving and legacy endows “The World We Want” philanthropic goals of a globally neutered set of collectivist religions who downplay individual salvation and sanctification for collectivist “better worldian” saving society utopianism! Given his boast of targeting the biggest market share of Baby Boomer wealth estimated in Buford’s Half Time series of books to be some $41 trillion dollars (his year 2,000 estimate), it would be fair to say the plot thickens.
Lifeway Research guru Ed Stetzer and Scott Thumma Collaborate—Is Lifeway Research driven by numbers or an agenda?
Ed Stetzer became the darling of evangelical research and began his deep impact on Evangelicals at the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Missions Board. He moved on to the SBC publishing giant and retailer Lifeway and headed Lifeway Research. He currently holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission and Evangelism at Wheaton College.
Stetzer wrote endorsements and the epilogue for Bob Buford’s Drucker and Me and has an admitted long association with Leadership Network. His work with Christianity Today, his Exchange Forum there and his influence through seminaries, books, Christianity Today’s dozen or so sister publications, church planting strategy, Urban Church Planting and Gospel Project curriculum, give him a major role in determining how the churches think about growth, evangelism, and ministry in the future. Quite often in Christianity Today articles, Stetzer refers to the research of Leadership Network and partners and Hartford Institute. Here Stetzer refers to his relationship with Scott Thumma: “Wednesday evening I got an email from my friend Scott Thumma, one of the authors of the research I had quoted and one of the top mega-church researchers in the country.”
Lifeway? — No Way – Yes WAY
So, thinking this through a moment — the lead researcher for the SBC’s Lifeway Research is good friends and collaborator with the developer of “The Gay Christian Identity” which negotiates the reconciling of a Biblical view of homosexuality and LGBTQ identity. Suddenly the host of mixed messages on LGBTQ issues coming from Stetzer, Moore and others begin to take on a more disturbing edge. Is this why Stetzer’s Exchange blog hosts a journalist outed for a gay tryst in 2012 to converse about “The Future of Evangelicalism” and asserts that homosexuality, which was once considered a CURSE, is now considered a CROSS (to be born by the SSA Christian) to one day perhaps being celebrated as a CROWN? Why is such a conversation being facilitated into mainstream Christian media? The same interview described the current attitude of the church on a range of issues from homosexuality, gay marriage, abortion, legalizing drugs and more as being like “unbaked cookies which need to be placed back in the oven and taken out in three to five years to see where we are.” This interview was about 3 years ago and the conversation and collaborations are about 33 years in the making.
Seeking the Welfare of the City – Is it possible to reach our cities with the Gospel while partnering with the ideologies destroying them?
This collaboration began 2005 in Orlando with CRU and Lausanne Movement representative Vonette Bright, PCAs Reformed Theological Seminary (Orlando) and NY City pastor Tim Keller. The Polis Report here is worth the time to read. The Seeking the Welfare of the City movement partners with pro- Marxist, pro-gay Urban specialist, Richard Florida, whose ideology promotes the use of a Gay Index and Tolerance Index much like the HRC Equality Index. (Richard Florida is also promoted by Bob Buford, Leadership Network, many Ed Stetzer interviews, Tim Keller, and a host of other curiously confused conservatives.)
Florida measures and rates cities by his indexes. (The Gayest Cities in America) Florida’s work with Smart Cities, Atlantic Magazine, City Lab and other urban centralized planning is renowned as the gold standard in economic development, urban renewal, historic preservation and community transformation. Florida’s books, beginning with the Rise of the Creative Class, assert that such urban centers must attract the Creative Class in order to succeed. This Creative elite includes gays, lesbians. bohemians, artists and musicians whose absence from inclusion in your project would doom it to failure. In actuality, the reason for Florida’s success lies more in the fact that major private and government grant funding uses his indexes as a LITMUS test for who will receive funding. A Florida protegee’ helps run the UCLA based Williams Institute whose work includes tracking the location of LGBTQ population clusters in order to help aid in what radical activists call “Queering the Census”.
So, the question begs – how can ministries like CRU, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Lausanne collaborate with such partners? Where is the common ground and the common good? How can Tim Keller, who has imported the Seek the Welfare of the City and Richard Florida’s Marxist ideology into his global church planting and City to City work, collaborate with such progressive pro homosexual policy while espousing Civility as the answer for the Church to a full-frontal assault?
Is Ignorance Bliss or just Criminal?
How can any of these church leaders named above ignore what is taking place in public schools with LGBTQ activists, the Human Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood? How can conservative ministers jump on the collective band wagon of urban planning and think its pro Marxist and pro homosexual ideologies are compatible with or can be “Christianized” by injecting few Bible verse justifications? Whatever sells and whatever gets funded may be all the answer that is needed. If that is the case then the honest thing to do would be to come out of the closet as humanists and no longer preach and write and minister as though you are a defender of and faithful to Biblical principle.
The Ecstasy Turning Agony.
Given Scott Thumma’s work with the heart of evangelicalism’s trend setters and the ideology to “negotiate a Gay Evangelical Identity,” the once reliable litmus test of sounding biblically orthodox in one’s position on homosexuality is no longer a meaningful measure, given that one can, as asserted, be both biblically conservative and gay or allow for a gay Christianity. This is all being brought about admittedly by a process of socialization and a Theory of Social Change. All this for the “Common Good” as the white knights of evangelicalism seek to save society by selling short the churches’ true role in it. Faith Based money is the single common thread, the reorienting of the church toward the great “quest for equality” and the common goal of saving society is the touted pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Individualism is exchanged for the collective Christian identity. Marx and Hegel would be proud. The ONE whose Kingdom is not of this world is likely not watching with approval. And the Church is being called to partner with these delusions.
For the Church, we are left looking heavenward for some faithful leadership. How long, O Lord?
More articles by Tom Littleton are posted on his blog at Blue Collar Saints.