Archive for March 5, 2016

Mar 5

Clarus ’16 Photo Roundup, Saturday, March 5

2016 | by Ben Moore | Category: Clarus 16

DSC_4994 DSC_5046 DSC_5033 DSC_5022 DSC_5020 DSC_5016 DSC_5096 DSC_5084 DSC_5073 DSC_5060 DSC_5055 DSC_5148 DSC_5129 DSC_5119 DSC_5109 DSC_5106 DSC_5239 DSC_5220 DSC_5179 DSC_5161 DSC_5157

Conference Photography by Ben Moore. Contact Ben at

Mar 5

Session 7 Recap: Panel Discussion with Owen Strachan, Justin Taylor, and Andrew Walker

2016 | by Nathan Sherman | Category: Clarus 16

Editor’s Note: Nathan Sherman is the Pastor for Youth and Families at Desert Springs Church and future planting pastor of Christ Church, Albuquerque, NM. This post is a summary of a panel discussion from Saturday afternoon at Clarus, March 5, with Owen Strachan, Justin Taylor, and Andrew Walker.


Question: What advice do you have for us to help us evaluate blind spots?

Justin: Half of the battle is asking the question. The greatest blind spot of all is to not even have the question on your radar screen. Also, living in community where you can talk openly, giving others the freedom to come to you with humble correction without fear that you’ll be offended.

Question: As Christians, how can we foster love for homosexuals?

Owen: We must actually put our theology into practice. If we are going to make good on the doctrine of the image of God, we must get to know our neighbors and ask questions. We do not always have to share the gospel in the first five minutes of a meeting. We should also be seeking to develop long and deepening friendships.

Justin: Rosaria Butterfield is really helpful in her books (here and here) or Youtube talks (here).

Andrew: Don’t play to the caricature that evangelicals and gay individuals are at odds with each other by virtue of their existence. We must demythologize an Us. Vs. Them mentality. The image of God gives us common humanity – we don’t ask questions about how we can foster love for liars.

Question: Can’t religious liberty be used to justify anything?Religious liberty for Muslims when their theology doesn’t embrace freedom for others.

Andrew: Citizens engaged in a democracy get to decide who they elect to represent them. We have a system of laws. Religious liberty is not an absolute right. If there were a religion that were to break American laws, then religious liberty doesn’t protect. The question then becomes, if the government is going to infringe, they must do so in the least restrictive means possible.

Question: Religious liberty for Muslims when their theology doesn’t embrace freedom for others.

Andrew: If we obesrve Muslims in Europe, where there have been militarized Muslims, this becomes a courage issue with local police. Any people must not be allowed to incite violence and denigrate women. A lot of Europe’s problems have not necessarily been a Muslim problem, but rather an assimilation problem.

Question: Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 tell us to submit to and honor human governments. When should we disobey?

Andrew: There is disagreement within the church and throughout history. My opinion is that when all last resorts have been exhausted and there in no way to seek redress, then the question of non-violent protest can be considered. If you are being assigned or coerced to do something you think is wrong, you may need to resign your position.

Justin: There is a distinction between me vehemently disagreeing with the government and the government coercing me to violate my conscience. I can disagree with same-sex marriage, but still operate as a good citizen. This would change if they began to coerce me to perform a marriage ceremony.

Andrew: Whenever we invoke this question about civil disobedience, we think our situation is the exception, but we need to really consider if we actually have exhausted every means available to us. Violence against abortion clinics would be vigilante justice because there are legislative and judicial means still available. As Christians, we are not given the sword to wield retributive justice – that’s the State’s responsibility.

Question: How should preachers talk about politics from the pulpit? How specific should they get?

Owen: A lot times people ask this question, wondering if a pastor should endorse a candidate. A pastor is a theologian and an ethicist. The pastor is the ethical activator of his congregation. There is no one whom the congregation should look to more for worldview, ethical, and political counsel than the pastor. Pastors must build a worldview in their people, and then when issues are really pressing – when abortion is on the local ballot – I cannot see myself passing up an opportunity to try to strike down this kind of law. Wilburforce gets most of the attention in ending slavery in Britain, but pastors like John Newton preached to these issues from their pulpits.

Taylor: As much as possible, I think we need to keep it at the principial level. The pulpit is such a sacred place. The preacher speaks for God in explaining his Word. If a pastor were to endorse a candidate, he is communicating that he speaks for God on this issue and can unintentionally bind the consciences of his hearers.

Question: You said that life begins at conception. Should taking a pill like the RU-486 pill be considered an abortion?

Taylor: I think if a contraception acts as an abortifacient, it ends a life. In the next few years, I think we’ll see stats that abortions are going down; that is, the amount of women actually walking into clinics will decrease, but it will be in no small part because of pills like these, which is equally problematic. Abortion thrives on secrecy.

Question: Abortion talks about a woman’s right to choose. Why is this not the way we should speak?

Owen: We don’t talk about a murderer’s “right to choose” when he murdered another adult person. We cannot frame this issue in “choice” language – we must locate personhood as the foundation for this conversation.

Taylor: Two quick strategies: You can say, “I’m very pro-choice when it comes to women. Women should have thousands of choices when it comes to decisions in their life.” But when people affirm a women’s “right to choose”, we should respond with: “Choose what?” The response must ultimately be articulated, “The right to choose to end the life of their unborn child.” Getting people to actually say this out loud is helpful.

Also, I would ask pro-choice advocates, “Do you believe that I have the right to choose my 7-month old son?” No one would say that. “Then what is the difference between a newborn and in the womb?” By taking a tack like this, you can reframe the debate so you’re no longer on the defense.

Question: what about legislation that doesn’t get us all the way like late-term abortion bans?

Owen: We’ve seen states pass more pro-life laws in the past 10-12 years than we ever have. State governments matter a great deal. If we can pass a law banning abortions past 20-weeks, we should do it. We have historical precedence for this: slavery was toppled in Britain because it was chipped away at for decades. But all of those chips matter.

Question: Can women work outside the home?

Owen: I think season of life matters. What Paul has in mind in Titus 2, is that if a woman have children they should raise them as best she can. We know from Proverbs 31 that women can certainly contribute in all sorts of ways, but I would push back against a mentality that asks, “How much work can she do?” rather “How much can she give to her family?” Being able to raise kids is a blessing, and we should’t be seeking ways to export the raising of our children to other people in order for mothers to work.

Question: In general, would you vote for a woman to be President of the United States?

Justin: I think its less than ideal, but there are situations where Christians can vote for a woman. It can create an awkward situation where a woman is the Commander in Chief forcefully directing generals. As we get further away from the church and home, it becomes less clear from Scripture, so we should be less forceful in how we prescribe this for others.

Owen: The identity as helper from Genesis 2 is core to a woman’s identity. My wife and I are not training our daughters as identical to boys in the same way that culture would train them. That doesn’t mean that my daughters couldn’t president, but it would be less than ideal.

Question: How do you counsel gender dysphoria?

Owen: I’d want to peel back why they feel such a disconnect between their body and identity. Is there a definable moment in their life? I want to help folks see that gender dysphoria isn’t primarily a physiological problem; it’s a moral problem which stems from the Fall. I want to help them overcome this issue in gospel terms – if it were simply psychological, then we should just send them to therapy.

Question: Suppose someone had a sex change and then became a Christian? How would you counsel them?

Andrew: There are a range of legitimate options that a Christian can suggest. I would suggest that as that person matures and grows in Christ, they would come to slowly come to more embrace their given and physical sex as they are working on embracing a path forward.

Justin: Russell Moore’s post, John or Joan? is especially helpful in thinking through this on a practical level.

Question: How can a man begin to lead his family?

Owen: The first thing a man should do is open the Bible with your wife and family. Begin instructing your family in biblical teaching. Pray with them. When you begin that, you have begun to lead your family spiritually.

Justin: Donald Whitney’s short book Family Worship is very helpful.

Andrew: The threshold is so low. Just do something.

Mar 5

Session 6 Recap: Taylor, “Race: Being Agents of Peace in a Perplexing Word”

2016 | by Nathan Sherman | Category: Clarus 16

Editor’s Note: Mike McDonald is the Lead Pastor at Faith Church, Rio Rancho, NM. He is a member of the Albuquerque Chapter of The Gospel Coalition. This post is a summary of Justin Taylor’s message from Saturday afternoon at Clarus, March 5, “Race: Being Agents of Peace in a Perplexing Word.”


Justin Taylor began the sixth session of Clarus 16 by making the statement, “There are some aspects of the race conversation that are more simple than we thought, and others are more complex than we originally thought.”

There are five simple truths we must keep at the forefront:

We all come from the same place – The ground at creation is level for all. All of us bear the very same image of God. Genesis 1 pays no attention to physical attributes because those attributes are morally irrelevant in assigning value. Remembering this helps us to think rightly of all people.

The same thing went wrong for all of us – Every person who was created in the Image of God has also experienced the reality of the Fall. One implication of the Fall is that racism should not be a surprising or shocking reality. Make no mistake, it is illogical, inexcusable and indefensible, but a robust doctrine of sin and the Fall leads us to a greater understanding historic and current realities.

The cross of Jesus Christ is the greatest news for all sinners – God created a way for His sinful image bearers to be reconciled to Himself. There is good news for all because of the work of Jesus.

There are incredible implications in the cross – Romans 15:7 speaks of welcoming one another as Christ has welcomed us. James 2 speaks repeatedly of the command to show no partiality. Matthew 6 Jesus exhorts us to forgive as we ourselves have been forgiven. In the church we don’t try to create unity out of nothing, we already have unity in Christ.

We should meditate on where we are going – After the fall of Noah in Genesis 10, we see people being divided into separate tribes, groups, and nations. But the narrative of the Scriptures leads us not to division, but ultimately to the most beautiful and diverse worship service. Revelation 7 details that a group too large to be numbered from every tribe and language will stand before the throne. We will be united before the Lord.

What are practical things that we can do as a result of this?

Be slow to speak and quick to listen – There’s a temptation to think we have a lot to offer, but we must first learn to listen. How many times have we begun talking before actually understanding what the question is?

Ask the Lord to search our heart to reveal our motives and show us our blind spots – The very nature of a blind spot is that you cannot see it. We invariably desire to profess our racial innocence and always assume that we have the best motives. However, we should ask God to reveal even the subconscious thoughts we have.

If you are in the majority culture, understand you have certain privilege – Majority groups have the luxury or privilege of not having to think about race. John Piper said “When you are the majority nothing you do is ethnic. When you are minority, everything you do is ethnic.” We must understand this reality.

Work on developing honest friendships – We will not make progress only by reading books and going to seminars. We need to take a risk, invite people into our lives. We must develop legitimate friendships that will teach us how to live, love and work with those different from us.

Recognize that it will not be easy and you will get hurt – To attempt to reconcile in this area, we must understand that it will not easy. Will we stay at the table and will we stay on the road when relationships get difficult?

We must resolve as the Church to show the world a better way – The Church can be the solution. We have the gospel of Jesus, so we must let this reconciling gospel drive us toward becoming the solution to this very difficult and complex problem.

Mar 5

Session 5 Recap: Walker: “Marriage: Creation, Vocation, and the Glory of God”

2016 | by Nathan Sherman | Category: Clarus 16

Editor’s Note: Spencer Brown is the Lead Pastor at Center City Church, Albuquerque, NM. He is a member of the Albuquerque Chapter of The Gospel Coalition. This post is a summary of Andrew Walker’s message from Saturday afternoon at Clarus, March 5, “Marriage: Creation, Vocation, and the Glory of God.”


In the fifth session of Clarus 16, Andrew Walker showed that modern culture’s perception of marriage is deeply flawed in not living up to the biblical model, and that the biblical view of marriage promotes God’s glory. Walker had three goals for his audience:

To understand the shifts in culture concerning marriage. The culture has redefined emotional and sexual fulfillment as the goal of marriage. We think about a flourishing marriage in merely romantic or sentimental terms or the emotional and sexual fulfillment of the couple. The sexual revolution empowered individuals to experience sexual freedom by divorcing sex from marriage. The process of redefinition comes by divorcing the goods, benefits and privileges from marriage itself, replacing it with a cheapened, substituted, and weakened form. Walker proposed five ways the culture has divorced the goods and benefits of marriage from marriage itself:

  1. Pre-marital/recreational sex — sexual intimacy severed from marital intimacy
  2. Contraception — recreational sex without the “fear” of children as an outcome
  3. Co-habitation — lifelong companionship severed from marriage
  4. Divorce — what was once assumed as permanent is now not permanent
  5. Same-Sex Marriage — removes the complimentarily as foundation for marriage

To understand the public relevance to the Christian worldview concerning marriage. Genesis 2 presents marriage as both creational and vocational. God created marriage as a creational ordinance meaning it relates to all people without exception and for all time. The definition of marriage is grounded in God’s created order. Marriage is also vocational. The vocational nature of marriage shows the purpose of God’s design for marriage. God chose marriage as the process to advance the next generation of kingdom citizens.

To understand why we must not cede the biblical understanding of marriage in society. Christians must not be comfortable to merely “sit down and shut up” on the topic of marriage. The Supreme Court does not have the right to redefine marriage, nor does the church have the right to let them. Instead, the church must work to “rehabilitate” marriage. Five reasons ground our need to fight for marriage:

  1. Marriage is not simply an ecclesial ordinance
  2. To allow any institution to promote a falsehood robs God of his glory and does not love his neighbor
  3. We don’t have the authority to cede the definition of marriage—marriage is not ours to give up
  4. Marriage is what the Bible says it is or else marriage doesn’t exist all
  5. By supporting same-sex marriage, Christians are proclaiming a false gospel

While the majority of the session uncovered the bad news regarding marriage, Walker concluded with the good news. First, heresy helps the church more clearly define orthodoxy. Orthodoxy wins! Second, the collapse of marriage in our culture gives the church new opportunities to testify to the truth. The church must proclaim the beautiful message of the Gospel to the “refugees” of the sexual revolution.

Mar 5

Session 4 Recap: Strachan, “Gender: Manhood and Womanhood in Christ as Our True Identity”

2016 | by Nathan Sherman | Category: Clarus 16

Editor’s Note: Dave Bruskas is the Lead Pastor at North Church, Albuquerque, NM. He is a member of the Albuquerque Chapter of The Gospel Coalition. This post is a summary of Owen Strachan’s message from Saturday morning at Clarus, March 5, “Gender: Manhood and Womanhood in Christ as Our True Identity.”


We are in a confused age.  Facebook has over fifty gender options, and as Christians we know that God has not left us to wonder what or who we are. He has given two very clear realities: we are created either male or female. The two gender distinctives are owed to the very mind of God as he has designed and given us gender complementarity as a good gift to be embraced and celebrated. Owen Strachan gave seven thoughts regarding biblical complementarity in the fourth session of Clarus 16.

First, complementarity shows us what we were made for.  Genesis 2:5-9; 18-25 provides this framework. God creates the woman out of the lack of Adam.  She is needed. The man and the woman have separate roles as identity markers, and these distinctive roles and identities are foundational to the biblical understanding of gender.  These roles are different but complementary.  Before the Fall, there is no competition between the genders, as they are interdependent.  There is harmony and joy, and God declares this good. We are not a man or woman because of a bio-evolutionary fluke–we are a man or woman because God made us that way.

Second, complementarity helps us understand our sinful instincts as men and women.  Genesis 3:1-7 reveals that Satan has always been about destroying womanhood.  He is repeating his scheme from the garden in our culture today.  He does so by tempting Eve to disobey the Word of God. The ground for all gender dysphoria, conflict, and sexual brokenness begins at the Fall in Genesis 3.  Women, like Eve, are tempted to disobey God’s Word, and yet God’s inquiry found in Genesis 3:8-13 makes it plain that the man is responsible to lead the woman.  Men, like Adam, will be tempted to refuse responsibility.

Third, complementarity provides us a script for our lives.   Women are called to have a uniquely feminine spirit.  While women are not precluded from working outside of the home, their vocation is that of raising children and helping their husbands. Women have a green light to use their gifts to serve the church in alignment with God’s design.  Likewise, God does not want men to waste away their 20s; he wants most men to courageously win a woman’s heart and start a family. A good and godly father does not ask the culture, or even a great youth pastor, to raise his child. A good and godly father leads his family to the glory of God. True manhood is all about drawing near to God and treating women respectfully in absolute purity.

Fourth, complementarity tells us what our marriages most need.  Because of Adam’s fall, none of us are compatible in marriage.  Complementarity revealed in Ephesians 5:22-33 paints the purest picture of Jesus’ love for his church.  Differences between married partners are best worked out through this framework.

Fifth, complementarity drives us to invest in the church’s future.  It teaches us that men are to be elders in the church.  Scripture requires complementarity standards be satisfied by church elders ( I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9).  The preparation for eldership begins with boys and girls learning to be what it practically means to be biblical men and women. If we don’t teach our children what it means to be a man and a woman, the culture will gladly step in.

Sixth, complementarity speaks a better word about sex than secularism.  We are living in a “Fifty Shades of Grey” sexual culture that causes confusion and leads to abuse.  This results in tremendous social and psychological damage.  The biblical vision of sex is grounded in complementarity and good pleasure as a gift from God.

Seventh, complementarity helps us appreciate the God-given gift of singleness.  Jesus Christ is the example par excellence as he was a fully-fulfilled human being who also remained single.  Single people don’t become complete or full-fledged Christians through marriage becuase Christians are already completed through his or her identity in Christ.