Thursday, July 02, 2015

A brief open letter to Jack Hibbs, pastor of Calvary Chapel church in Chino Hills, CA.


Dear Jack,

You don't know me, and I don't know you.  I had never heard of you before last night when, while driving to Trader Joes and flipping through the radio stations, I landed upon a Christian station broadcasting one of your sermons.  I have been a devout Christian and faithful church-participant for over 30 years and am also nearing completion of my Master's degree in Theology--so I appreciate a good, well-thought-out and well-delivered sermon.

Unfortunately, the sermon I heard given by you--which was in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling about same-sex marriage--was none of these things and, in fact, stands as one of the most spiteful, misinformed and strident screeds I have ever listened to.  "Surely," I thought, "I am hearing this out of context," so when I got home I looked up your church's website and found the sermon there and watched it.  It was that second listening, in its entirety, which prompted me to write this brief message.

We may disagree--as many devout Christians do--on how we interpret the Biblical texts that pertain to homosexuality, but that is not my concern here.  As one who affirms the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons into society and church, I disagree with many of my fellow Christians, and we do so in a spirit of mutual respect and fellowship.  Conservative Evangelical Christians such as Matthew Vines, Justin Lee, Kathy Baldock, David Gushee and James Brownson (to name a few) have provided plenty of detailed and scholarly exegesis on the Biblical texts which offers a viewpoint different from your own.  So I'm not going to rehash those theological arguments here.

What I'm more concerned about is the spirit in which you address these matters.  It is certainly not a Christ-like spirit.  It is proud and haughty.  It is vindictive and mean.  It is Pharisaical.  It is ideological and fear-mongering.  It smacks of Fascism in the guise of the Gospel.  It is very, very ugly. 

And it is rife with lies and distortions.  For example, you claim that now that gay people can legally wed, "It is going to be like it was in the days of Lot: violent homosexuals knocking on doors threatening to sodomize people who disagree with them."  Really?

I know that, as a Calvary Chapel pastor, you place great emphasis on a particular eschatological framework.  Part of your eschatology includes a belief that in the End Times there will be a great apostasy; a great "falling away."  I would suggest that this great falling away is indeed happening, only it is a falling away from grace and from love.  And your behavior epitomizes this apostasy.  You come in fear and anger and accusation, not in the name/character of the Lord.

I realize that criticism such as this will only feed your persecution complex.  You seem to invite it and glory in it, believing that it is an indicator that you are following Jesus.  I would suggest that in this too you are mistaken.  Critical confrontation directed at you for your harsh rhetoric is not an indicator that you are being a disciple of Jesus, but rather that you are being an asshole.

Sincerely,

-Danny Coleman

23 Comments:

Blogger Katrina Martin said...

Thank you!

7:26 AM  
Blogger Steveo said...

You are wrong Danny. The bible is very clear on homosexuality as it is on all sin. Much of the church is not standing on Biblical teaching anymore and instead is standing on man's teaching. Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman as it so a covenant with Jesus and his church. Two homosexuals marrying is not a Christian covenant and it is a sin.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Danny Coleman said...

Hello Steve,

Thank you for taking the time to comment. I used to believe as you do, because it was what I had been taught by people such as Jack Hibbs. What changed my mind and heart was the Holy Spirit and careful study of scripture. The thing is, these teachings from people like Hibbs about gay people are not just wrong, they are very harmful. They hurt people whom Jesus loves. This anti-gay rhetoric destroy lives. It is utterly un-Christ-like.

Rather than rehashing here the case for gracious and respectful inclusion of gay and transgender people into the church, I would suggest (if you are in any way inclined) you read the books I linked to in the post above.

Blessings to you.

-Danny

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Tristan said...

Nope, sorry Danny, Steveo got it right. Both the old and new testaments make it clear homosexuality is a sin. And this is coming from someone who has struggled with same-sex attraction since puberty. I know what God says about the issue, especially in Romans chapter 1. It is wrong, and quite frankly, arrogant, to think you can overrule God's word. We live in such a politically-correct society where pointing out sin is labeled as "hateful" and "intolerant". Granted, not all Christians point out sin with the purest intents, yet many do, and are still labeled "haters". We tell homosexuals they are in sin and in trouble with God because, well, like all sinners, THEY ARE! Warning against sin is one of the most loving things you can do as a child of God. Just like if you have a 3-year old child, you're not going to allow him to play ball in the streets. It's not because you're being "hateful" and "intolerant". It's because the consequences of doing so is dangerous and potentially lethal. With sin however, it's not potentially, it DOES lead to death, specifically spiritual death and the lake of fire eventually after final judgment.

It is because Jesus loves us, that He tells us, REPENT. That was the very first recorded word that came out of His mouth when He first began His ministry. There's a good reason for that. Without repentance, you will perish (Luke ch 13). Telling people sin is sin is not hateful, it is loving. What's hateful is allowing gay people to think what they're doing is ok in the eyes of God, to remain unrepentant, and that there will not be consequences for that. You, Danny, are being the hater, just like Jonah, who did not want to preach repentance to the Ninevites.

Granted, Pastor Jack can be sarcastic at times and he raises his voice when he's fired up and passionate about what he's speaking of. Yet, I know this man, and he's most certainly not the things you accuse him of being. You assume too much, and much of your judgment can be brought back to you as well. You would do well to preach at yourself and heed your own words.

1:18 AM  
Blogger Danny Coleman said...

Hi Tristan,

Yeah, I've heard all that before. It's pretty boilerplate stuff. I actually used to spout some of it myself until the Holy Spirit convicted me that I was sounding like a sanctimonious Pharisee rather than a disciple of Jesus. The thing is, nobody buys those justifications for treating LGBTQ people badly anymore, except for the increasingly marginalized fundamentalist Christians who unthinkingly repeat them.

A few years ago, I happened to be spending a couple of weeks at a seminary in the Midwest and discovered that the Gay Christian Network was holding their annual convention nearby. By this time I had already invested a considerable amount of time and effort into studying the handful of Biblical texts used to condemn LGBTQ people, and had concluded that folks like Jack Hibbs are horribly mistaken in their exegesis. I decided--as a straight, married man--to attend the GCN convention and see what it was all about. Once there, I stood in the midst of hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer Christians as they worshiped Jesus with all of their hearts. The Holy Spirit was manifestly present. It was powerful and profound and holy. I felt a bit like Peter at the house of Cornelius (see Acts 10).

So, yeah, I've done the Biblical work and then actually put myself humbly into the midst of those I had previously (and wrongly) condemned. I wish men like Jack Hibbs would do likewise. It is spiteful and dishonest rhetoric like his (example: "It is going to be like it was in the days of Lot: violent homosexuals knocking on doors threatening to sodomize people who disagree with them.") that causes great damage to these people whom God loves.

As I wrote to the previous commenter, if you have any inking to learn more, I would suggest you read the books I linked to in the post above.

9:26 AM  
Blogger T. Anders said...

Please just remember that God created Adam and Eve...not Adam and Steve.

You ARE entitled to your "opinion," Danny, but your "opinion" is NOT what matters...it only matters what God's Word says! And your argument, Danny, is NOT with Pastor Hibbs, but with God, Himself; but unfortunately, by the time you realize that, you'll be standing face to face with your Creator. Take it up with Him at that time.

I DO agree that we are ALL accountable for our attitudes with which we address scripture, but I've heard Pastor Hibbs myself on this matter, and I believe only a person who wants to continue in his sin or in support of the sin of homosexuality, would find what he says objectionable.

By the way, we are never to CONDEMN the homosexual (we are to love the homosexual)...but we are to condemn the lifestyle.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Danny Coleman said...

Hello T. Anders. By bringing up the tired old cliche about "Adam and Steve" I assume you are trying to suggest that since the first human couple is depicted as a male and a female then other pairings are against God's will. I wonder then how you explain the thousands of humans born each year who are intersex; that is, they are both male and female or neither completely male or female (sometimes anatomically, sometimes chromosomally). Are those people and their relationships invalid too? Should they be prevented from marriage since they are neither strictly male or female? Do you blame their existence on "the fall"? If so, aren't you now extrapolating beyond scripture into (as you put it) "opinion" (or as most Bible scholars would term it, "interpretation")?

Speaking of "opinion"/"interpretation"... I'm having trouble finding out much about Jack Hibbs' educational background. Where did he receive his formal biblical and theological training? Or is he just winging it? I ask because I know that many Calvary Chapel pastors are not well educated. For myself, I am seminary trained, with a Master's degree. My understanding of scripture, including what scripture says (and doesn't say) about homosexuality is based on rigorous study using proper hermeneutics. This provides at least some safeguard against simply spouting one's opinions or parroting what one has been taught by one's (equally uneducated) mentors.

Regarding your use of the word "lifestyle"... I'm curious to know exactly what you mean by "lifestyle." The reason I ask is that I know many LGBTQ people and many married LGBTQ couples. Some of the most mature and devout Christians I know--who consistently bear fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)--also happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. Their "lifestyle" looks pretty much like mine and, I would assume, yours. They go to work, go to church, go shopping, raise their kids, pay their taxes, pay their mortgage, etc. I find nothing particularly condemnatory in that.

1:29 PM  
Blogger Bible Believing Christian said...

Amen! Thank-you.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Joshua Hernandez said...

We have found a tear ladies and gentlemen. 30years of being a christian? Why does it sound like u are a new believer. Jesus died for everyone, but how is it bad to tell people the sin is wrong? The bible speaks for its self. It has no opinion. Lying with a man like a woman is an abomination. Plain and simple, u can even read it from the new living translation. Its not ur opinion or his that matters, its the bible. BIBLE=TRUTH

12:05 PM  
Blogger Danny Coleman said...

Hi Joshua! FYI, it's "tare," not "tear." :)

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I choose to follow the God inspired Holy Word. That's what Jack Hibb preaches. End of story.

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Danny. Trans gender people have it rough enough without haveing to defend themselvs to opeionated people especially when the only openion that counts is that of Christ.

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sin is sin is sin. Is sin other then being gay a less sin? So if you don't include All sinners into your church then why are you that think you should not allow LGBT allowed in the church? God loves ALL and can forgive ALL right?

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let the first one without sin go tell the gay visitor or member to leave the church.

10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you condemn all the other sinful lifestyles of all the other church members as you do the gate person. If not then you are being selectively condemning All sin is sin in the sight of God. Just because we see gay lifestyle being a very visual sin and not being able to hide it as easy doesn't make it any worse or better. Point out the sin biblically and treat them the same as aLL other sinners

10:41 PM  
Blogger Brother Derek B said...

Danny, after reading your comments, I am confused as to what your post is really about. Is it that LBGTQ people are really no different than you or me or that homosexuality is a sin in the Bible?

If it is the former, then I totally agree with you. Any Christian knows that the heart in ALL human beings is wicked from birth. This is why we need Jesus in order to stand in right-standing before God. Gay people, or anybody else, is no different. We are all the same in this respect.

If it is the latter, then you are simple deceived if you believe that homosexuality is not considered a sin in the Bible. A child could tell you that from a plain reading of scripture. No higher education required and the verses that point this out are many.

Jack Hibbs is a good pastor and speaks from the Word of God. This is not in question by anybody I know who....reads the Word of God.

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A True Born of the Holy Spirit persons still struggles against the sins in their flesh,
But they don't take the Holy Scriptures and twist them to approve sin.
If you are acutely doing that, and say the the Holy Spirit is leading you to di this, you might want to ask the Spirit
Why Homesexuality is ranked as a SIN IN THE BIBLE!!

7:22 PM  
Blogger TheBoev said...

Aren't we taught to be like Jesus? To love the sinner regardless of the sin? Taking His name in vain, coveting, murder are all sins in the eyes of God. No sin is more grievous than the other. We don't cast out sinners, we love them where they are. Judgement is not mine or yours to heap upon your brothers and sisters in Christ. When I stand in front of my Father I believe he will look at me and see if I loved fully, gave of myself to those in need, and acted as close to the way His son taught us as I could as a broken human. He won't be looking for whether or not I stood in condemnation of sinners. God's grace is infinite, nothing mere humans can comprehend. Jesus paid the price for my sin as he did for all who believe.

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Cova said...

Danny, you accuse Jack of being proud and haughty, vindictive, mean,ideological, and fear-mongering. I see nothing of those qualities in Jack Hibbs and I listened to the same Sermon. From your letter it sounds as if these characteristics, could be attributed to you. Why do you fear the Truth of the Word of God? This letter of yours is indeed mean, vindictive, insulting, and haughty! Surely you can not be proud of this letter, when you share none of the love, or grace of our Dear Lord. You sound like a very angry man, and a very deceived man. If you believed the Holy Spirit of God was with the LGBTQ that day you so "humbly" put yourself in their midst, I fear you may be deceived, as the Holy Spirit would not pour itself out on a group of unrepentant sinners, and would be considered an abomination by our Lord. Perhaps you are so angry as a result of questioning your own sexuality and are in fact struggling right now with GOD. In any case a bit of further self examination might be a good idea, as you have clearly been deceived by the father of lies. Yes Danny the apostasy has begun and it has started with people such as yourself, when you have the audacity to call another, whether he be a man of God or not , an ahole.I fear Jesus would not be very happy with you in that regard. Oh and one more thing , it's not very "humble" to say that you are "humble". Take a look in the Spiritual Mirror , my friend .

7:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Danny Coleman it IS people like you that is morally bankrupt and goes against all that the God of Abraham,Isaac and Jacob declared to be good in HIS sight and we Christains just sat on our hands while lawlessness was changing all that God established. I believe it was demonic forces that made so many of us sympathetic to the homosexual community. We had this attitude "aww,god(god of this world that is loves them we must love them) NO!!! we must NOT accept this lifestyle and continue to be silent ...Not sure in what spirit you are trying to fool ppl with,but I see right through your subtlety in how you began your letter as subtle. No matter how politically correct of how you ppl twist the WORD of God it is time that we Christains stand up and reject this!

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People who struggle with the sin of homosexuality are welcome in the church as are all of us sinners. But all of us are expected by God to turn grom our sins and at some point completely overcone tge behavior and replace it with God's virtues and with a new lifestyle. This applies to prideful, liars, thieves, people having premarital sex, people cheating on their spouses, molesters, drug dealers, drug addicts, porn stars, porn viewers, party animals, drunkards, self righteous people, homosexual people abd some. The point is that whatever our sin struggles are, God will take us as we are but expects us to abanfon ans denounce those sins. In the context, homosexuals cant keep practicing the sin and still claim to walk with Jesus too. They should have support as they wrestle with this difficult struggle but should eventually overcome practicing it. I say this with love and empathy for a struggle that is very real and about many sincere people dealing with homosexuality.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Charlie Leonard said...

Amen

4:15 AM  
Blogger Charlie Leonard said...

Hey Mr Anon! The New Teastment comes down hard on sexual sin as it points out the exact nature of sexual sin and what’s does to the believer. So we can see that sexual sin has a massive impact with massive consequences, more so than say the sin of lying, gossip & slander. So grow up, get real & get honest!

5:01 AM  

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