I Begg to Differ

Alistair Begg Stands by LGBTQ Wedding Advice with Sermon on Jesus’ Compassion

First a little context. I came to faith 20 years ago at the age of 30. I read some Max Lucado and other baby Christian things but I felt a need to grow in the faith and “catch up” to the things that I thought I should understand by the time I reached 30. I was raised in the church and the older guys seemed so mature to me and I knew that I was nowhere close. An acquaintance at the Christian school my son was attending helped me redirect.

“Doug, the response to the gospel is to be repent and be baptized.”

“I understand. I need to find a church and get baptized.”

“That’s not what I’m getting at. The word “Baptizo” means to immerse.”

“Got it. Baby sprinkling doesn’t count. Well that wasn’t done to me.”

“No, what I mean is that you need to immerse yourself in the word and chase after Jesus the rest of your life. That is what I take the instruction to mean.”

“Where do I start?”

“Have you ever heard of John Piper?”

And so I started at the gateway drug to Reformed Theology at that time. With the help of Tim Challies, I worked my way through Desiring God. I didn’t always like what I was reading, but I couldn’t argue through the biblical instruction. Over time I became a bit of a fanboy of Piper, as well as Michael Horton, Ravi Zacharias, Tim Keller, Joshua Harris, David Platt and others. If you’ve been paying attention, there is a common thread here. Every one of these guys disappointed in a big way. Some don’t even claim to be Christians any longer. I have been disappointed by big name pastors so many times I have actually rejected the whole motif of celebrity pastor whole cloth.

In retrospect, the best thing John Piper did for me, other than his penultimate work “Desiring God” was to platform certain speakers who Big Eva types objected to. Years later, you’d be better off listening to those guys over anyone respected by The Gospel Coalition.

But a little piece of me held on to a few strands. R.C. Sproul has not been gone long enough that any skeletons would have fallen from his closet. John MacArthur seems to be remaining firm. Alistair Begg seemed like a solid pastor who just so happened to be broadcast on the radio. Those are were the last present day “heroes” that I named and I stopped even buying their books or following their ministries. I had my own as an elder in a local church and would rather be fed a spiritual diet from my own pastor, not somebody else’s. But I still wanted some sort of man to look up to as a pastor of God’s flock. And there is my problem. I wanted a fallen man to emulate when Jesus met every requirement on my behalf.

Enough about me, though

Alistair Begg has instructed a grandmother to celebrate the mirage of her grandchild to a transsexual person. I meant mentally ill. Scratch that. Let’s use biblical terms. Her grandchild who has chosen to live a life of unrepentant sin, codifying that sin through a mockery of the marriage instituted and owned by God, defined in the beginning and repeated by Jesus as one man and one woman leaving their parents, cleaving to each other and becoming one flesh. Her grandchild wants to mock all of that and Begg told the woman to celebrate the day in order to surprise the couple. No, they can’t be a couple. A couple implies two pieces that are coupled together. There is no adapter for this. And if you tried to make one, God would come down to see what you are doing and confuse your language.

He was asked to clarify and he doubled down. He was asked if he would ever repent and he tripled down. He then called anyone who disagreed with him a Pharisee. Earlier, he said that not everyone in his elder board at church agreed with him. So Begg called his fellow ministers Pharisees. Nice touch, Alistair! But what does he mean by Pharisee?

Well, in postmodern times, a Pharisee is little more than another way to say that they are legalistic. A legalist is one who either believes that God approves of them more because of their works or one who believes that God disapproves of them more because of their works or lack thereof. Alistair is accusing his detractors of legalism. But Alistair also has a long record of requiring biblical thought. And in Jesus’ time on earth, the Pharisees were the approved church leaders. They were the original Gospel Coalition. And in Matthew 23 Jesus gives us a better description of what is so bad about Pharisees. They were hypocrites, who acted publicly one way and who didn’t follow the rules they laid out for others. They added to the Law, putting human rules around God’s instruction, for the purpose of “simplifying” things for the people. When Jesus says “You have heard it said” to the people, He is referring to the additional rules heaped on them by these men. They were the bureaucrats who took God’s law and twisted it into things God never intended. In the name of clarity they made everything fuzzy.

Begg’s detractors, including those in direct ministry with him, are not trying to fuzzy up clear things. They are trying to stop Begg from doing so, and are being attacked by him for it from the pulpit.

According to the words of Jesus, this is what Begg is saying of all who differ with him over whether one ought to celebrate a mockery of God’s word. If I were an elder in his church, I would confront him in front of the other elders and demand a public apology. Begg is too seasoned a pastor to be this careless. He is protecting something that is more important to him than biblical fealty. He needs to step down from every ministerial role. The second crime scene is always worse than the first and the third crime scene is gruesome.

I will never be as platformed as Alistair Begg. I will never have the same pressures. I do believe he is in error here, but this does not mean he is reprobate or that his prior history hasn’t been a remarkable help for a growing Christian like myself. At the same time, he is much closer to the end of his race than the beginning, and to quote Margaret Thatcher: ‘This is no time to go wobbly’

Indeed it isn’t. 1 Chronicles 12:32 tells us that it is good to understand the times. And it is good to know what to do about them. Alistair Begg, as a shepherd over a flock, has lost track of what time it is. Why that may be is beyond my knowledge. But if he refuses to repent, he should be replaced before the lampstand at his church is removed.

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Published by CoffeeSwirls

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