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Redefining The Faith? – Vanderbilt Divinity School Appoints Lesbian Dean

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The Divinity School seems intent on re-writing God’s Holy Word.

In yet another sign of the shift within the Christian Church away from Biblical Christianity, Vanderbilt University Divinity School has appointed a married, lesbian Christian as its new dean. Dr. Emilie M. Townes, a former associate dean at Yale University Divinity School, and ordained Baptist clergywoman, is a vocal proponent of the idea that homosexuality should no longer be considered a sin in the Christian faith. The appointment of a dean who professes her Christianity but openly defies God’s Word is a clear indicator of the apostasy – the prophesied falling away in the church from Biblical Christianity, to a modernized, “me-focused” doctrine, that has its own rules and seeks to cater to the worldly lusts.

According to reports:

“I am excited about becoming part of this slice of God’s cloud of witnesses as we shape ourselves into being responsive to holding traditions and the future together,” Townes said during her convocation address, as reported by Christian News.

“Not out of a sense that traditions are static but with an appreciation for the fact that they are dynamic and actually morph and change, though slowly at times. And also not out of a sense that the future is some magic potion that allows us to neglect the work we must do today.”
Townes’ partner, Laurel Schneider, also joined the Vanderbilt Divinity School’s faculty this year. Although Townes’ appointment was announced last December, it has recently stirred up debate within the Christian press. (source).

In an op-ed piece in the Huffington Post, Townes explained her spiritual belief and support for her gay marriage:

We are both clear that we do not to conform to the standard text of marriage, but we want to find ways to breath new air and life into what it means to be married not only by the state, but even more so in the eyes of the Holy Spirit; to be committed for a life time; and to grow old and be those kind of old ladies that we so admired when we were children — truth tellers, wise, independent, but fiercely engaged in the communities they were a part of.

Folks approach gay marriage from a variety of perspectives — moral, theological, social, political. As a Christian social ethicist with womanist leanings, I am clear that the Bible says precious little about same sex relationships, though it appears to have a bit more to say about acts but even that is muddled. (source).

The Bible And Homosexuality

Dr. Emilie Townes, left, at her official convocation as Dean of Vanderbilt University Divinity School.

Jesus Christ defined marriage in the Bible as between a man and a woman:

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. – Matthew 19:4-6.

Rather than saying “precious little” about marriage, as Townes put it, the Bible is abundantly clear that God has ordained marriage to be between a man and a woman for life. Additionally, the Bible goes into specific detail about homosexuality being a sin:

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. – Romans 1:21-27.

Sexual sin is a by-product of society’s rebellion against God. As humanity continues to deny God and reject His free offer of salvation, God gives people up to our own sinful lusts and a result all sorts of illicit sexual sins, both heterosexual and homosexual, increase. And Scripture is clear that a woman in an intimate relationship with another woman is “against nature” and refers to homosexuality as a vile affection. So there is nothing “muddled” in this passage, as Townes refers to it.

The Movement To Change The Bible

The Divinity School’s agenda is to reinterpret Scripture surrounding homosexuality.

Towne’s viewpoint is becoming more and more common in Christian churches across the United States and the world. More and more pastors and leaders are trying to change the Bible and change the Christian faith to suit the current desires of the unsaved world. In the Divinity School’s “Purposes And Commitments” page, its stated objective is to: “to help persons, both lay and ordained, reenvision and prepare for the practice of Christian ministry in our time..”

This is grave spiritual error. The book of Jude admonishes Bible-believing Christians to hold on to God’s Word and not seek to change or “breathe new life” into it:

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. – Jude 1:3-4.

The Bible is God’s Word, not humanity’s. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”  The word “inspiration”, theopneustos in Greek, literally means “God breathed.” It is God that breathes His Spirit into the Bible, not any person. The Lord Jesus Christ made it clear that changing the words of the Bible was a sin that would not be taken lightly. This is made clear in the stark warning given at the end of the Book of Revelation:

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. – Revelation 22:18-19.

Yet despite the clear admonishment of Scripture, many in the church today, like the faculty at the Vanderbilt Divinity School are attempting to “reimagine” and “reinterpret” the Bible to change God’s Word in favor of what society wants today. Further in its Purposes and Commitments page, the Divinity School writes:

“This commitment involves the exploration in the curriculum of lesbian and gay concerns as well as affirmation and support of gay and lesbian people within our community.

The school is committed to a program of theological education that is open to and takes account of the religious pluralism in our world. It seeks to familiarize students with interreligious dialogue and the diverse manifestations of Christianity throughout the world, recognizing that to know one’s own tradition one must know and participate in others as well. This commitment entails the appointment to the faculty of scholars in other religious traditions and from diverse branches of Christianity, as well as the provision of resources for students to study in global contexts.” [Emphasis added].

In addition to affirming the the gay lifestyle as being accepted from a Biblical perspective, the school also encourages its Christian students to actually practice other religions. This is heresy and flagrant sin. Throughout the entire Bible, it is clear that Christians are to worship no other God but the God of the Bible. Nowhere are believers instructed that in order to truly understand Christianity one should practice another religion as well. But this is the goal of the apostasy in the church today – to move Christians away from making the Bible their sole authority and guide for their faith. Satan seduced Eve into sin in the Garden of Eden by getting her to doubt God’s clear Word. And the same tactic is being used today to lure well-meaning Christians from a firm belief in the Bible to a New Age view of the Scripture that says it is a “nice tradition” but leaves the door open for all sorts of new doctrines and person-made ideas. The Bible refutes this notion in Galatians chapter 1:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:8-10.

The Vanderbilt Divinity School is preaching a different Gospel in an effort to please the world. And students are being indoctrinated into their way of thinking as the Bible fades to the background.  Do not be deceived.

Pray For This School

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”Romans 5:8. Jesus loves all people, including those who seek to “affirm” homosexuality in the Church.

As explained in our article, “Christian Singer Jennifer Knapp Comes Out: Is It Okay To Be Christian And Gay?”, the challenge for a Christian with homosexual desires or who is in a homosexual relationship is not to conform their faith to their desires. It is to conform themselves to the image of Jesus Christ and the Word of God. Galatians 2:20 says “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Jesus Christ took on human flesh, was tempted in all ways and did not sin. And then despite being God in the flesh, willingly gave His life on the cross to take the punishment for all of the sins of all people of the world. By Christ becoming a perfect sacrifice and rising from the grave on the third day after His death, all people, gay or straight, can be forgiven of their sins and receive eternal life in Heaven.  Trying to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ but purposely contradict or “re-imagine” the Bible is believing in an idol – a god that you have fashioned for yourself from your imagination. This is sin.  Rather than walk in spiritual rebellion. Christians are called to “crucify” their sinful past life of the flesh and live for the Spirit of God in them.

Pray for Dr. Townes and all the Christians who feel they can change the Christian faith to suit their own personal desires. Jesus Christ said: “..If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25). This is the Christian life: a denial of our old self and the sinful desires we have, whether they be sexual or otherwise. And “picking up our cross” by living the way God wants us to live as stated in His bible. All Christians will struggle with sinful desires as long as they are living in their sinful flesh. But God calls us to repent of our sins and build our faith up to resist them and live in conformity with His Holy Word. Lord willing, one day Dr. Townes will learn this and share it with the many students who will come to her school to learn about the Christian faith.

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