Discussing Trueman Discussing Homosexuality

Tim Phillips

“The article by Trueman


is spot-on. He is not defending homosexuality, only stating that evangelicals need to be better equipped to explain why the practice is wrong — they can no longer argue from a cultural perspective, since the perspect…ive of the culture has been changing over the last few decades. When sinful practices like no-fault divorce and adultery are often tolerated in evangelicalism, a simple “ick-factor” argument is not going to be very persuasive. To use an analogous argument that James White once made, if you ask the average evangelical why he or she isn’t Roman Catholic, most cannot give a biblical/theological answer, only that they consider RC “strange” or something of the like. That’s just not a good response.”

Bret L. McAtee

If Trueman’s article is spot on he needs to learn how to write with more clarity so as to identify the spot he wants to be on. I found the article, because of its it’s ill written structure in the first couple paragraphs to be thoroughly confusing.

Tim Phillips

“What exactly was confusing about the first couple of paragraphs? All he says is that the decision wasn’t a surprise, a significant comment on a morning talk show, and the fact that there is a generational gap on the issue. One factor that you may not be accounting for — he is British. There’s a certain subtle rhetoric that can be somewhat more difficult to grasp. My point was that the substance of his argument (in the latter part of the article) was spot on.”

Bret L. McAtee

I would prefer to understand it as a certain subtle confusion that is more difficult to grasp precisely because it lacks clarity.

What was confusing is his search for a sociological answer to why there is a difference between the under 35 crowd and the over 35 crowd quite apart from the realization that the problem is theological.

What was confusing was his invoking the idea of culture w/o a corresponding understanding that culture is merely theology externalized. He writes about our culture informing us on the issue without seeming to realize that culture is theology a couple steps removed.

What was confusing is that the man made gross generalizations. Not everyone over 35 was clueless on the biblical reasons as to why homosexuality is wrong. Indeed, a person only need be conversant with Romans 1:16f.

Also, I found his use of the word “Bigoted” to be confusing. While, technically it is acceptable to speak of being bigoted against things like “Apple Juice,” or “GM products” most commonly the word is used to designate an antagonistic attitude towards something that is otherwise perfectly acceptable.

In terms of his bullet points … those weren’t confusing so much as they were “Captain Obvious” statements.

Tim Phillips

“Actually, that is not a very good definition of “bigoted” — it indicates utter intolerance for a belief or opinion that differs from one’s own. Acceptability is not the determining factor.

I agree with your first and second points in that the problem is ultimately theological, and culture ultimately reflects theology (whether good or bad). But I don’t think he would deny that either (the man teach historical theology at a major seminary). In fact, that seems to be precisely what he is saying. The culture has opposed homosexuality, but not necessarily for biblical/theological reasons. While that may not be true for everyone over the age of 35, he was reacting to a statement from a morning talk show; I’m over 35 and did not think for a moment he was including me in that demographic.

Obviously, if the last points were “Captain Obvious” statements, that would seem to mean you found them very clear.”

Bret L. McAtee

I found the latter points clear. It is the first couple paragraphs that remain thoroughly confusing.

If the culture has opposed homosexuality it has opposed it for theological reasons. Now, all of those theological reasons might not be Christian but they were nevertheless theological.

And in terms of teaching at a Reformed Seminary?

That and 50 cents might get a cup of coffee from me. I think the best thing that could happen to the ministry is to decentralize the training away from the Seminaries.

Tim Phillips

He teaches at Westminster Seminary. I did not make the comment to laud seminaries, only to point out that he understands theology. And culture. Read his _Minority Report_ or _The Wages of Spin_ as examples. I won’t dispute your last point about seminaries, except to be careful not to make a gross generalization there. Not all seminaries are bad. Actually, I’m of the opinion that one solution would be to have pastoral training done by pastors, which I think is similar to the point you are making.

I think it would be helpful to make a distinction between being “theological” and being “biblical.” The two should be — but are not necessarily — the same thing (i.e., cults have bad theology, but it is not biblical theology — at least not well-informed biblical theology). Not everyone opposes homosexuality for specifically biblical reasons. They oppose it because their parents told them to, Ozzie and Harriet society told them it was wrong, secular psychology told them it was deviant behavior. Or, they found it personally odd. His point was that this might coincide with biblical teaching, but the person did not arrive at that conclusion or necessarily biblical reasons.”

Bret L. McAtee


Yes, but in a culture, such as ours, that has historically such deep roots in Biblical categories and Christian theology, even the culture holding people in place is a result of Biblical influence. Ozzie and Harriet, on this issue, were who they were, because deep deep down the culture had been shaped by Christian categories.

Now, I quite agree that perhaps people should have been more epistemologically self conscious regarding their belief systems but you know not everyone is called to examine the contours of a culture. Some people — indeed most people, including Christians — just swim in the culture w/o questioning the nature of the water. I don’t fault the over 35 crowd to much if it was the case that the remnants of a Christian culture was holding them in place and I certainly don’t refer to them as “Bigoted.”

Now that our culture has changed in the direction of pagan homosexuality people who are both under and over 35 need to work on understanding Biblically the most self evident of realities as to why men and women are exclusive fits.

Personally, I long for the a time when culture is so influenced by Christian categories I don’t need to spend my time proving from Scripture that men should only marry women.See

Tim Phillips

“Yes, I would agree with most of what you say (if not all with the last post). I suppose much of my reaction is can be summarized in a discussion I had with one gentleman, a congregant at a church in Mississippi. Let’s just say he was well over the 35 line. During a pastoral visit, he raised the question of homosexuality, and asked, quite honestly, if the Bible did indeed teach against it. I assured him it did, and I later preached a sermon on that very subject. The point is that he believed the right thing, even thought it to be biblical, but because the prevailing culture was changing, he was confused. Some were telling him the Bible taught something else. Some were telling him not to look at the Bible at all. That is one reason I recommended the book by White and Neill above. It addresses many of these issues and the objections that folks raise at the biblical teaching (the ol’ shellfish argument for instance). Plus, it’s much less confusing than Trueman.”

Bret L. McAtee

Rapprochement! You’ll remember that my point at the outset is that Trueman’s article in question was confusing.

Thanks for the discussion Tim. I am always for clarity.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

One thought on “Discussing Trueman Discussing Homosexuality”

  1. There is another concession in your exchange. It occurs when Mr. Phillips claims that Trueman uses “subtle rhetoric,” but then admits that bigotry is a harsh term that indicates “utter intolerance for a belief or opinion that differs from one’s own.” So calling people “bigots” is not that subtle after all.

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