(The following was my first-run introduction to my sermon for this coming Sunday. I decided not to go with this approach, but wanted to share it with you nonetheless.)
I first began looking into this idea about the apostle Paul, I wasn’t sure that I would have enough material to justify the need for a sermon. As I passed the list around of the sermons I was planning on for this series, I was hoping someone would question me on the validity of it, and I was so reluctant concerning the topic that I put it off for a few weeks.
Once I cracked the lid on the topic, I realized that my initial assessment was absolutely correct concerning the apostle Paul. People of all stripes hate or reinterpret him or simply ignore him.
For instance, in my research I came across liberal theologian and Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong. Spong is for the liberal church what R.C. Sproul is, or Alistair Begg is for those who truly believe in Christ. Theological liberals love Spong and his spawned messages that water down the truth of Scripture.
(Some might ask: why bring him up? I bring him up because he appears on television at every opportunity he can trying to debunk the faith. He has been on 60 Minutes, ABC News countless times, CNN, Dateline, Larry King Almost a-Live, etc. He teaches that hell isn’t real, there is no real sin, and that the church has just manipulated people throughout history).
In the video that I listened to, Spong actually tried to make the case that the reason the Apostle Paul is so harsh on homosexuals and the sin of homosexuality is that in reality, the Apostle Paul is a suppressed gay man. Once you know this truth, then you will begin to see his gayness popping up everywhere through the New Testament.
Of course, we reject Spong’s assessment outright, on two very simple facts. First, Spong doesn’t believe that Paul’s writings are God’s inspired word. He sees them as simply historical documents of the early church and are to be regarded simply as historical documents.
Never mind Spong’s inconsistency in coming to Paul’s letters. For in one breath he says that Paul really didn’t mean the homosexuality was a sin, but in the next breath fully affirms Paul’s statement: For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God.
The other reason we should reject Spong and his position is that he came by it, not by the leading of the Holy Spirit, but because a gay man who informed Spong that Paul was an oppressed gay man. Since a gay man recognized this truth???, it must be right??? What? Are we supposed to listen to the sinner in interpreting Scripture or to the Holy Spirit?
This is the problem with liberal theologians. Whatever cause they support, whatever pet sin that they refer to, they end up twisting Scripture to meet their needs. In other words, feminist come to the Bible only to find that Jesus was a feminist. Gays come to Bible to find that Jesus and the disciples were gay.
Yet, if we are going to be faithful Christians, we cannot afford to listen to men like John Shelby Spong. We need to know that the Apostle Paul is trustworthy, and, more importantly, we need to know that the Apostle Paul was called by Christ for the work of the ministry.
Here is the video of Spong telling Dr. James White how it is that he came to know that the Apostle Paul was actually an oppressed homosexual. It’s actually mind boggling that those who consider themselves so wise, become such fools.
Please note: Spong has not exegetical leg to stand upon. He is simply reading into the text what he wants to find. This is truly dangerous and is not exegesis at all. This is known as eisegesis, which means reading your own interpretation into something that is not there.