Thursday, August 31, 2017

29 August 2017

“But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” [Ezekiel 33:6]

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Ephesians 6:12]

Presbyterians Week Headlines


+ Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 918 South Pleasantburg Drive Suite 127, Greenville, South Carolina 29607, 864-232-8297, Fax: 864-271-3729

+ The Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 607 North Easton Road, Building E, Box P, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania 19090, 215-830-0900, Fax: 215-830-0350

+ Presbyterian Church in America, 1700 North Brown Road, Suite 105, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043, 678-825-1000, Fax: 678-825-1001,

+ Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005

[Editor’s Note: Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (PTS) Associate Professor of New Testament Robert A.J. Gagnon PhD is no longer teaching at PTS. The seminary released the following announcement concerning Dr. Gagnon’s departure:

"Dr. Rob Gagnon will be leaving Pittsburgh Theological Seminary effective August 21, 2017. Dr. Gagnon has been a part of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary since 1994, serving since 2002 as Associate Professor of New Testament. The administration at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Dr. Robert Gagnon have mutually agreed to end their relationship. We appreciate the contributions Professor Gagnon has made to our students and the community during his time here and we wish him the best in his future endeavors."

Dr. Gagnon is an outspoken proponent of the biblical perspective on marriage and sexuality, and has published many books and articles on the subject (]

Dr. Gagnon published the following Facebook article on 25 August 2017:

Here is the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette announcement of my departure from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

(PPG is a politically leftwing paper and fully supportive of the LGBT agenda, though the article offers some balance given that bias.) It is not surprising, perhaps, that the first person cited for a reaction would be Janet Edwards, a self-professed "bisexual minister" (so several web posts by her) who has been virulent in her opposition to me for well over a decade. She supports what Jesus and the writers of Scripture would have regarded as the enslavement of persons with same-sex attractions and gender-identity confusion to the sinful impulses of their flesh (see Paul's "handing over" remark in Romans 1:24; compare 6:19). Expecting her to give me a fair and decent appraisal is somewhat like expecting a Gnostic to give a fair and decent appraisal of an orthodox Christian.

Since her slander is public, it is necessary for me to note publicly certain facts. She conducted one or more same-sex marriage ceremonies (or equivalent) before it was permissible in the PCUSA to do so and was tried in the Pittsburgh Presbytery once for said action, though something akin to a jury nullification took place (it was ruled that she could not have "married" said persons because same-sex "marriage" was not recognized at the time as marriage in the PCUSA!). It was a mistake on my part many years ago to ever allow this "LGBTQ" zealot to audit a course with me, even an introductory Greek class (so much for trying to be conciliatory), since she was committed to misrepresenting me.

In an introductory Greek class I rarely, if ever, speak about the issue of homosexuality; evaluations for these classes through the years will bear me out. But in Edwards' thinking any mention of the issue from a biblical-orthodox perspective would be a heinous (and thus in her mind "often"-occurring) offense. So obsessed was Edwards that, after the class was over, she arranged a meeting with me, in which she was verbally abusive, then followed up with verbally abusive letters to me. Even former student Dwain Lee, now in a same-sex marriage, acknowledges in the Post-Gazette article my appropriate conduct in the classroom.

Edwards states, "“It was simply not healthy to interact with him and take a course with him.” Let it be known that I am (and have always been) committed in the classroom to making all students safe from any personal disrespect and free at all times to express their own views. I always underscore, repeatedly when discussing "controversial" issues (such as presenting the biblical evidence for the historic-orthodox Christian position on, say, substitutionary atonement or the male-female foundational prerequisite for sexual ethics), that students would never be graded down for disagreeing with me. (When I was a Masters student at Harvard Divinity School in the 1980s I occasionally encountered an instructor who belittled my views or graded me down for said views. I would never repeat that injustice to any student who disagreed with me.)

As a general practice, I request only that students (whether orthodox or not) ought to base their claims about what Jesus or any writer of Scripture allegedly believed (or did not believe) on arguments documented from Scripture assessed in its historical and literary context. Hypothetically speaking, it is not enough to assert solely on the grounds of one's own ideological preferences that "Paul did not believe that Christ died to make amends for human sin" or "Jesus did not believe in a male-female requirement for marriage." One has to make a case. Otherwise one's position is entirely circular: Jesus or Paul can't have believed such and such because this belief is offensive to me.

This is standard procedure for good pedagogical instruction, necessary in order to develop critical thinking in students. Again, taking up the hypothetical examples cited above, I do not believe the safety of a student in the classroom is involved when a Christian professor makes a strong case, after weighing the pro- and con-arguments, that the early church regarded belief in Christ's amends-making death ("Christ died for our sins") as essential to the self-definition of Christians. This is, after all, an empirically verifiable historical position.

Again, hypothetically: Nor can a student rightly complain of being made to feel unsafe if the professor makes a strong case that, historically speaking, Jesus, the apostolic witness to Jesus, and the Old Testament witness foreshadowing him rejected every and any form of same-sex intercourse as abhorrent, comparable in depth of severity to an adult having consensual intercourse with a parent. This too is an empirically verifiable historical position.

Nor does a Christian professor's expression of agreement with such an overwhelming biblical witness, consistent with historic affirmations of the church about essential matters of the faith, create an unsafe learning environment in a seminary classroom. Liberal professors in seminary classrooms throughout the country regularly tell "conservative" students, for example, that substitutionary atonement is not supported in Scripture and/or theologically indefensible; or that Jesus and the writers of Scripture did not condemn "committed" same-sex relations (even that it is hateful to disapprove of such relationships). This has been happening for decades without any issue being raised about making "conservatives" feel unsafe.

I make these comments without any reference to the viewpoints held or practices engaged in by the administration, faculty, and staff at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. I reflect merely on my own personal views and practices as regards the question of safety in the classroom.

Incidentally, pertaining to Edwards' claim, I taught six courses this past year at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Every single student evaluation was positive.

+ Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, 616 North Highland Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15206, 412-362-5610, Fax: 412-363-3260

+ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Boulevard of the Allies, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222, 412-263-1100

+ Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005