There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding Revoice – a conference held in St. Louis, Missouri in July, 2018, ostensibly for the purpose of increasing understanding of the LGBT community by evangelical Christians. A follow-up to that conference is scheduled for June of 2019.
The Home Page of the Revoice19 website greets visitors with what appears to be the Revoice motto: Fostering Peace. Honoring Dignity. Preserving Faith. Its Mission is “To support and encourage gay, lesbian, bisexual, and other same-sex attracted Christians – as well as those who love them – so that all in the Church might be empowered to live in gospel unity while observing the historic Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality.”
Its vision (and the reason Revoice exists) is “because we want to see gay, lesbian, bisexual, and other same-sex attracted people who adhere to historic Christian teaching about marriage and sexual expression flourish in their local faith communities. We envision a unified Church where these individuals can be transparent with their faith communities about their orientation and experience; where local churches utilize and celebrate the unique opportunities that lifelong celibate people have to serve others; where Christian leaders boast about the faith of people who are living sacrificial obedience for the sake of the Kingdom; and where all people – regardless of their orientation or experience – are welcomed into the lives of families so that all can experience the joys, benefits, and responsibilities of kinship.”
And those behind Revoice make it clear that they believe that much evangelical ministry to the LGBT community has done more harm than good – especially what it calls “the pursuit of orientation change”. Its Statement on Public Posture and Christian Witness includes this affirmation regarding Doctrinal Practice and Culture: “Evangelical Christian culture has been largely shaped by ‘ex-gay theology’ and a variety of ministries which promote the pursuit of orientation change as a chief measure of sanctification for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and other same-sex attracted Christians…Thousands of men and women have suffered great spiritual harm and continue to live with deep emotional scars as a result of ministries focused on orientation change. Moreover, Christians have often disregarded the inherent dignity of LGBTQ+ people as fellow-image bearers of God, treating them more as political enemies than as people whom Jesus calls his church to love. Many LGBTQ+ people long to hear Christian leaders apologize for these unbiblical and damaging approaches to ministry, discipleship, and public life. We lament this.” Again, this from the official statement published by Revoice.
These are, of course, serious charges to level against evangelicals and their ministries to people who identify as LGBTQ; but the fact that the 2018 Revoice conference was hosted by Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Louis – a congregation of the doctrinally conservative Presbyterian Church in America - has raised more than a few eyebrows. While all are in agreement (or they ought to be!) that Christian churches should be welcoming of all, there is clearly disagreement about what the Word of God says about sin and repentance in relation to issues of sexuality and gender identity.
In a less than subtle response to Revoice and its conference, there is now God’s Voice and its conference. The goal of God’s Voice is to “bring biblical clarity to the recent confusion surrounding the issues of ‘re-voiced’ sexuality and “LGBTQ+ Christians. God’s Voice will present a biblical response to the queering of the church of Jesus Christ, in an effort to teach, strengthen, and encourage believers and Christian leaders across all denominations to stand on the inerrant, unchanging, and life-transforming power of the Word of God”. And the statement concludes with: “What the church needs now is God’s Voice.”
So, there you have it. Revoice and God’s Voice. Two sides in the current discussions about the Bible, sexuality, gender, sin, repentance, and grace.
My guest on today’s Visit to the Pastor’s Study is one of the conference speakers for God’s Voice. - Reverend Al Baker. Reverend Baker is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America, and has been in the Gospel ministry for over 35 years. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi in 1981; and he received his Doctor of Divinity in Evangelism and World Missions from Whitefield Theological Seminary, Lakeland, Florida. He currently serves as an Evangelist with Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, with his ministry base in Birmingham, Alabama.
Today he’ll fill us in a bit more about Revoice and God’s Voice and how they differ in addressing many of the issues of sexuality that we’re facing today.
Here’s a link to the full program:
Yours in the Lord Jesus Christ, who saves us from our sins,