A brother in Christ has been slandered on social media over the past 24 hours and falsely accused of all manner of things. The accusations are wild and untempered, but given the volume of public noise and some of the voices giving it oxygen, I wish to offer a comment.
Ed Shaw is Church of England Pastor from England. He is currently in Australia and speaking at a number of events across Sydney. He is today speaking at Moore College and has been welcomed by the Sydney Anglican Diocese. Ed was interviewed for The Gospel Coalition Australia (TGCA) by Dani Treweek, and it is one of his comments that have created a storm.
“I’m wanting the young people who come to this event to know that Jesus is the one person that they can fully trust with their sexualities, identities and gender because he is both their Creator God and a human being who knows what it is like to grapple with a sexuality, identity and gender. Teenagers today are being presented with such a confusing range of options that they especially need the tender care that Jesus offers all of us as we struggle with what it means to be a human being.”
Ed is alluding to passages such as Hebrews 2:18 and 4:15 which give believers encouragement, knowing the incarnation is real and that the Lord Jesus both understands human temptation and is able to help us when we are tempted.
“Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.”
These verses are wonderful encouragements, knowing that the Lord Jesus can empathise with our weaknesses. Ed didn’t say that Jesus struggled with his sexuality or that Jesus was gay, but that these verses must be true for all of us even those who are struggling with sexual identity and purity. Ed is pointing to the Lord Jesus and sustaining the Biblical truth that our hope and life are found up in Him. The unfolding twitter storm is a case of people reading into Ed’s comments and inferring ideas that he hasn’t proposed.
A Twitter account belonging to someone by the name of Summer White Jaegar seems to have initiated the online defamation. She stated “This TGC dude is teaching kids that Jesus struggled with his “sexuality, identity and gender”. This is wickedness.”
I appreciated Glen Scrivener responding publicly,
“Impressive. Three fails in one short tweet. You fail at reading comprehension, at basic Christian charity and at christology. Way to go.”
Phil Johnson, who made a name for himself earlier in the year for crying wolf over another issue, has joined in the chorus saying,
“Surely I am not the only one troubled by the glut of deliberate ambiguity & sloppy, unbiblical remarks about sex and sanctification in articles from TGC.”
First of all, it’s TGCA, not TGC. Second, where is the glut? I can only assume Phil Johnson hasn’t read the many articles TGCA has published on the topics of sex and sanctification. If he has, can he please point out the glut and the unbiblical.
Twitter functions a lot like dominos. It begins with one person and then with lots of people followinh in quick succession, often without considering their own words or even the meaning of the person whom they’re quickly condemning. It’s a good lesson to stop and read people carefully, rather than assume and jump on someone’s bandwagon.
Of course, there are heretics and false teachers about, and their work is destructive. Ed Shaw is not one of them. He is a faithful servant of the Gospel. Ed is an orthodox Christian of Reformed persuasion and who holds to the classical (biblical) views on marriage and sexuality. He has written on and speaks regularly about his personal struggles with same-sex attraction and what it means for him to follow Christ and find his identity in Christ while experiencing the brokenness of this world. A brief visit to livingout.org, a website that Ed co-runs, will quickly dispel the rumours about his theological views.
Ed and I attended Cornhill in London, some 20 years ago. While we haven’t had much to do with each other since then, one family from Mentone Baptist were part of his church for several years while living in the UK. I know how much his godly shepherding helped them grow in the faith.
The spiritual vigilantes who are defaming both Ed Shaw and The Gospel Coalition Australia are not doing the Gospel a service. They are not preserving sound doctrine but orchestrating a witch hunt against a brother in Christ. Frankly, who needs heretics when Christians practice slander against brothers and sisters in Christ, preferring name-calling and misquoting rather than godly engagement?
I call on Phil Johnson, Summer White Jaegar, and others, to repent of falsely accusing a brother. Your public comments and behaviour have not adorned the Gospel. They have misrepresented Ed Shaw and TGCA. At a time when evangelicals are seeking to embrace and encourage brothers and sisters who are same-sex attracted, your words today have not helped.
TGCA has published a postscript in response to the online comments – https://au.thegospelcoalition.org/article/ed-shaw-church-sex-attracted-people/
TGCA has also posted an article on the temptations of Christ by Dr John McClean – https://au.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-temptations-of-jesus/