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Will The Real Sam Allberry Please Stand Up?

This article is taken from Thomas Littleton's chapter on LGBTQ issues within Christianity from the upcoming book Social Injustice. Thomas is one of 12 authors contributing to this project, each author taking a different topic within the issue of Social Justice. To pre-order Social Injustice, visit Use code THOMAS at checkout to get a free audiobook version of Social Injustice, with each chapter being read by the author.

In recent months leading up to Revoice 2019 (which took place this past week) the Southern Baptist media machine was in full swing to KEEP Revoice 2019 out of the news. The efforts of some in the PCA to address and condemn the “LGBT+ Flourishing” conference from 2018 have made recent denominational headlines and been the topic of multiple blogs . But the SBC regulars like Denny Burk and Albert Mohler have had nothing to say about this years event and its SBC ties even though TGC and SBC thought leader on LGBT sexuality and gender Mark Yarhouse was a keynote speaker at Revoice 2019.

A series of articles by anti -social justice /Dallas Statement leader Tom Buck served to focus attentions on part of the LGBT+ problem in the SBC by turning the spotlight on Sam Allberry and his UK based ministry “Living Out”. At issue were some 6 year old articles posted on the Living Out website. Much of the deeper controversy on Allberrys ministry were left out of the discussion. Hardly a peep was being spoken about the current and ongoing controversy of Revoice 2019 and its considerable ties to the ERLC/ TGC/ and Albert Mohler’s SBTS or that SBC/TGC favorite Mark Yarhouse spoke at Revoice 2019.

The Buck / Allberry skirmish launched a TGC interview between Allberry and 9MARKS editor Jonathan Leeman. Tensions calmed after a contrite Allberry agreed to “audit the Living Out website” . However no mention was made of the Living Out “LGBTQ+Inclusion Audit ” for churches or that Leeman’s ( and Mark Dever) own 9MARKS churches began to implement the Living Out training and audit in the Fall of 2018. All was nicely smoothed over and even Tom Buck tweeted out his deep appreciation of his brother Allberry and expressing thankfulness for his ministry. The sad reality in the SBC is that a major pro LGBTQ+ movement is thriving in our midst and those in leadership are either playing DODGEBALL or SOFTBALL with it. This reality may set in far too late to stop the movement.

So let us take a look at who introduced  Sam Allberry to the people of the SBC and how he became a TGC editor.

The ERLC conference also introduced a host of new speakers all claiming to be ‘same-sex attracted (SSA), but celibate’ (some professed to be in mixed orientation marriages- homosexual married to a heterosexual––yes dizzying by design). Though not advocating FOR gay marriage or approval of active gays in the church, these speakers represented a chorus who would begin with the SSA language, and in time, advocate openly for singles adoption and foster care supported by the church. By 2018, the SSA talking points would include open attacks on the nuclear family as an “idol” and brazenly deny that heterosexuality is normal or should be the object of a believer in their future identity. The “idolatry of family” language comes straight from the halls of Drew University Theological School and feminist theologian, Janet Fishburn. The attack on the Christian family is driven by political goals seeking the eventual outcome of weakening and destroying the incubator of Christian conservatism in American culture, which hinders the advance of progressive causes like the feminist agenda.

Among the herd of SSA speakers introduced at the 2014 ERLC conference was the soon to be rising star, Sam Allberry––a self-proclaimed SSA gay priest from the Church of England. The British Parliament had redefined marriage in the UK by a 2013 decision. The Queen had signed gay marriage into law and 2014 witnessed its implementation. The Church of England, being a state Church where the Bishops have seats in the House of Lords and the Queen is the head of the Church, required compliance to and embracement of the law of the land.

The Church of England has very small weekly attendance. By 2017, the number of actual weekly attendees was below 725,000 out of a population of 67 million. Numbers continue to decline rapidly, and fears are increasing among church leaders that forcing gay marriage on the church may cause an even more rapid decline. The response was to call for a report or study, and the task was assigned to Sir Joseph Pilling a retired agent of the British Department of Health. The end goal of the effort was to address the issue of the acceptance of gay marriage in the Church of England. From the Pilling Report came a recommendation two year facilitated “conversation” (in other words, a controlled dialogue or dialectic) on the issues of homosexuality and marriage. This “dialogue” was to be carried on by selected leaders and controlled by the church and conducted in various locations around the UK. Part of what arose as representing the “historic, conservative” view of marriage and sexuality was a ministry called Living Out, which was founded by an assortment of same-sex attracted, gay, Church of England priests. One of those priests was Sam Allberry.

Operating from the position of fixed sexual orientation, and resourcing the same psychological community researchers and leaders like Mark Yarhouse and Stanton

Jones, Living Out conducts conferences across the UK using various approaches and nuanced language. For example, though the front page of the website states halfway down that they prefer to use the label ‘same-sex attracted’ instead of the phrase ‘gay Christian,’ the opening paragraph on the site states, “We are a group of Christians who experience same-sex attraction bringing out into the open the questions and dilemmas that gay Christians can often face.”

Living Out leaders, including Allberry, have enjoyed massive promotion and acceptance as the go-to source for issues related to LGBT+ in the Church of England. This is despite the often self-contradicting and nuanced language which often confuses readers and listeners. Allberry’s book, “Is God Anti-Gay?” became a hit among evangelicals leaders on both sides of the Atlantic. Living Out––though left on center by promoting fixed homosexual orientation, and not historically biblical at all––became the new “conservative/biblical response to homosexuality and marriage” in the Pilling Report conversations. To date, the members of Living Out remain publicly opposed to gay marriage, yet push for narratives of inclusion and ordination in the name of celibacy or “mixed orientation marriage” adherents by LGBT+ members of the church and clergy.

Allberry and others from Living Out were invited to speak in the 2014 ERLC conference in the US and soon became very popular with The Gospel Coalition (TGC) as writers and speakers in TGC conferences. Allberry became an editor on LGBT related issues for TGC, and writes and speaks for ERLC and Russell Moore––the advocate for change in the US conversation on LGBT-related topics. Allberry also went to work for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries as a speaker and writer. These positions placed Allberry and Living Out at the very heart of the LGBT and marriage issues, providing “answers” which is actually driven by a politically motivated order of Parliament in the UK for a State-owned Church of England. This reality, and how it relates to the church in the US, where the two are separated in order to protect religious freedoms guaranteed in the US Constitution, has thus far failed to become part of the serious questions that have arisen as a result of the Living Out advocacy for SSA Couples living together, singles adoption, and church “hospitality” toward the LGBT+ community, taking several years to come to the full attention of more conservative evangelicals. By 2019, though, it has come under scrutiny and objections have finally been raised. Allberry had also been joined on the TGC/ERLC conference circuit by others like Rosaria Butterfield, who is billed as a pastor’s wife and homeschool mom, and is also a former lesbian and liberal academic whose specialty is in critical theory and queer theory and literature informed by Freud, Marx, and Darwin. At present, over a dozen people with a variety of backgrounds and “testimonies” have been employed by TGC and ERLC to further the SSA—celibate—LGBT narrative in the biblically conservative US denominations churches, seminaries, and parachurch movements. The great common uniting factor is the embrace of fixed sexual orientation and the ever-present influence of Mark Yarhouse, and American Psychological Association (APA) compliant “Christian psychology.”

A Turning Point for Allberry and Living Out

Allberry, and to a lesser degree, Living Out and others in the SSA narrative, have enjoyed unfettered access and unquestioned influence in the US churches. The various Reformed movements and parachurch organizations like TGC and ‘Together For the Gospel’ (T4G) have shown an insatiable appetite for the SSA talking points and every nuanced variation and application of them. This changed in spring of 2018.

Allberry, Living Out, and Yarhouse Get Too Close to the Fire

The TGC and ERLC conference on racial relations and the Martin Luther King, Jr legacy in Memphis TN was the beginning of the end for unquestioned allegiance to those two organization by many. The accusations of “white privilege” and that “southern Christians worship Jim Crow as Jesus,” along with efforts to validate the poor theology of MLK, sent shockwaves through the evangelical community and gave rise to concerns leading to loud objections and statements of descent like the “Dallas Statement.” Within days of this controversy came public the knowledge that Sam Allberry and Living Out were promoting TGC co-founder, Tim Keller, speaking in London on LGBT identity, and “for their US audience” they promoted the radical “Revoice Conference.” Revoice, to be held in St Louis, MO in July, was/is openly “promoting LGBT+ thriving in historic Christian tradition.” Many of the younger TGC LGBT protégé writers and multiple ERLC/ TGC/ PCA members were either promoting and/or speaking at the Revoice event. This included Living Out partner Wesley Hill, and fellow Keller-progressive PCA leader, Scott Sauls.

The promotion by Living Out and Allberry of Revoice became even more disturbing as Revoice rolled out its full line of workshops and speakers. These included gay Catholic activists and multiple gay campus ministry leaders clearly under the influence of TGC–Carson–Christ of Campus Initiative–Yarhouse white paper from 2010. Mark Yarhouse, who openly embraced Revoice 2019 when he became a speaker for the second year’s event, was behind the scenes promoting and defending the inaugural event on social media along with Allberry and Living Out. Revoice workshops and speakers aggressively advocate for LGBT+ Christianity and Queer Christianity while promoting the “treasures of Queer Literature, Queer Culture, and Queer Theory in the church and in the New Jerusalem.” These realities, along with Revoice advocacy for the church to “embrace the LGBT+ community at large” led to an awakening from a six year SSA conversational stupor to the realization that on the back of nuanced language and SSA–celibacy, LGBT+ Queer Christianity is now inside the camp of conservative evangelical Christianity in America, and the players listed in this writing have had key roles in bringing this reality to pass.

A lessor known fact is that Revoice founder, Nate Collins, is a disciple of TGC, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), and Southern Baptist leader, Albert Mohler. Collins spent nearly 15 years as a student, student leader, and later, teacher of the New Testament at SBTS. ERLC’s Russell Moore is also an Albert Mohler disciple, having spent over 20 years at SBTS before ascending the ERLC position and seeking to alter Southern Baptist views on welcoming LGBT. It’s also important to note that several ERLC council members and contributors openly endorsed Revoice.

Mohler disciples like Denny Burk and Owen Strachan of Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood wrote articles of semi-support through a “wait and see” attitude toward the event. In actuality, these same circles of men had presented and discussed these “Revoice”-advocated ideas when presenting academic papers at the annual Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) events since at least 2013. Mohler made several attempts at giving the radical event the benefit of the doubt, but never mentioned the name of his disciple, SBTS Nate Collins, who was still teaching New Testament at Mohler’s seminary when the Revoice event was founded. Mohler remained silent about Collins in his multiple public statements and writings until an August 2nd, 2018 article just after the Revoice July event. In this final critical article, Collins is named nine times, but his SBTS ties are NEVER mentioned by Mohler. Revoice is now established as a 501(c)(3), and remains as a movement with ties that go deep within both the SBC and PCA denominations and their flagship seminaries, SBTS and CTS. Revoice 2019 is being given deep cover by the mainstream press with virtually no coverage of the event at all, in spite of its ever-deepening radical narratives.

Sam Allberry and Living Out, in June meetings with TGC’s Tim Keller, had introduced a Church LGBT+ Inclusion Audit including the word “Biblical” to assert that churches needed to be put to the test with a ten point set of statements to be marked by congregations as “true, false, (or) not sure.” The audit was praised in the June meetings with Keller by his wife Cathy, who endorsed it and insisted she was making copies and taking them back to use at Redeemer, the Keller’s NYC based congregation. Living Out did not go public with the audit in featured media outside the conference until August, after the Revoice conference was done and controversies were hopefully dying down related to it. The audit began to be implemented in the UK almost immediately, and by September 2018, were being welcomed into three 9MARKS churches in the US. One of these churches was the high profile Southern Baptist congregation of TGC leader and 9MARKS founder, SBC pastor Mark Dever. The audit at this point called for Christians in compliant churches to be willing to “share their children with [clearly implied] LGBT people.” It also called for policing pulpits, private conversations and even thoughts of congregants for discussions and attitudes deemed inappropriate, and for the hiring of LGBT staff.

Brannon Howse of Worldview Weekend, along with this writer, began to expose the Living Out / Allberry “Church LGBT Inclusion Audit.” Others in Christian media

followed, exposing the controversial and arrogant ‘putting churches to the test’ audit. The most controversial “sharing children” statement in number nine of the audit was changed to read “share family time,” and Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist SBC church was removed from the Living Out website. 9MARKS pastor and ERLC Council member and ‘Dever-protégé,’ Garrett Kell, and his SBC church Del Ray Baptist, continued to be listed as the host of the LGBT inclusion training and audit implementation. Allberry continued speaking on the topic of sharing children in the fall of 2018, as part of the ERLC “Cross Shaped Family Conference,” and echoed the controversial talking points of Revoice by decrying the “idolatry of the nuclear family” by the church. This language is taken directly from the feminist theologian Janet Fishburn, of Drew University Divinity School, and her 1991 book by the same title. Little had actually changed except a slight shuffle on the Living Out website. The labeling of traditional and Christian biblical views as an idol is a cultural Marxist approach to destroying the foundations of society and taking over the primary institution where values, convictions, and character are shaped. In the case of the feminist theologian, Fishburn, the political motivations are glaringly displayed, as well as her advocating for replacing the nuclear family with the communitarian vision of the church as family, as long as that church is not stuck in Christian principles from the Victorian era, and resistant to progressive political movements advocating for the causes of “race, feminist and gay rights.” Sound familiar? ERLC’s Russell Moore, in his book which provided the theme for the ERLC 2018 Family Conference, shares the family “replacement” ideology and echoes much of the Fishburn message and progressive political talking points.

Allberry appeared to be getting some much needed scrutiny in the SBC from Texas pastor Tom Buck in the spring of 2019. Buck wrote several articles on controversial topics related to LGBT and SSA-but-celibate “couples” on the Living Out website. There were several problems with the Buck approach, however. For one, the articles mentioned in the criticisms had been posted on the Living Out website, as confirmed by Allberry, for over six years. Why were leaders in the SBC only becoming concerned about them now? Buck, who is part of the anti-social justice Dallas Statement, also did not delve into the core of the SSA issues related to their origins in the APA and Yarhouse. In fact, at least one of the articles from the Living Out website cited Mark Yarhouse (who will be a keynote speaker at Revoice 2019) and his research with Stanton Jones of Wheaton as a primary source. The issue of “orientation” was left to continue to dislodge the Christian community from the LGBT “conversation” from being anchored soundly in and confined to biblical context. Mohler, Keller, Moore and TGC remain successful in keeping the view that LGBT+ orientation is fixed and is a viable Christian view.

The controversial Living Out articles in question in the Tom Buck writings were taken down. Buck had a nice conversation with a “humble” Allberry, and in a social media post, declared him a valued brother in Christ. The importance of this compromise was Buck’s role in The Dallas Statement, one of the most public efforts thus far opposing the Social Justice movement.

In the midst of the Allberry “controversy,” and while Revoice 2019 was coming public with its event details with virtually zero mention, TGC and 9MARKS Jonathan Leeman interviewed Sam Allberry at Midwestern Seminary during the TGC 2019 mini conference. Both men are editors––Leeman for 9MARKS, and Allberry for TGC. Both work with ERLC and Russell Moore, and both are very skilled wordsmiths. In this interview, Allberry shifts from the use of the term “orientation,” saying “it is no longer working for us now.” He and Leeman then retreat to the biblical term “temptation” when framing the conversation on SSA and homosexuality among professing Christians.

The effort to further explain the articles on the Living Out website and the Tom Buck criticism is used to advance what is to be taken as a spontaneous conversation where Allberry shows contrition, agrees to “audit the Living Out website” and offers up humility while explaining his positions. Even as this effort to rehabilitate their image is taking place, Allberry is able to find himself in even more controversial comments after asserting once again that his homosexual desire is not in itself sinful, and that replacing it with heterosexual desire and “lust” is not his goal, nor that of the gospel. Allberry is asserting that the SSA desires in the hearts of himself and others (which even identify them and their faith) are not a hinderance to their pursuit of holiness. This assertion and the attack on heterosexuality as normal are totally in the face of Jesus’ own warnings against “looking to lust,” Matthew 5:28, and in James’ clear warning that the desire of the heart is the seedbed for sin and death, James 1:12-15. The irony is that Leeman and Allberry, for the moment, abandon the APA/Yarhouse “homosexual orientation” framework, and use the biblical term ‘temptation,’ while in the very same discussion fail to recognize or acknowledge the truth about temptation and the desire (in this case SSA desire) which James addresses. It should be noted also that both Revoice and Living Out Allberry are presently attempting to give historic context and validation to their LGBT+ Christianity narrative by tagging onto the legacy of John Stott. Stott is a favorite of TGC when promoting their social justice narrative, and is one of Tim Keller’s mentors. Some have even dubbed Keller the ‘new Stott.’ Much of the SSA language, again, as noted, was launched in the 2010 Lausanne South Africa meetings, where Keller was the featured speaker.

It should also be noted that at the SBC annual meetings in Dallas, Texas, and several other such Leeman and Allberry conversations, that we also find Leeman and his boss, TGC leader Mark Dever, discussing Leeman’s new book advocating “third way” politics. In the interview, these Baptist leaders are attempting to nuance language over Christian opposition to abortion relating to Christian voting habits. Jonathan Leeman is a graduate of the London School of Economics, which was founded by a Fabian socialist, and is an epicenter of global progressivism. Dever revealed this fact in the SBC interview, while Leeman’s 9MARKS bio makes no mention of it. Leeman does mention that he served in DC as an editor for a global economics magazine, but refuses to name the publication when asked multiple times. These public discussions are given the appearance of men thinking through complex topics in public view. They are meant to appear spontaneous and contemplative, when in fact, far more background should be considered before taking any such conversations about Christians’ political convictions, voting habits, or views on LGBT+ at face value. We must ask, “who are these people, and what goals are they actually pursuing?”

The Unseen Layer Behind the LGBT+ Christian Conversation: Money – Money – Money – Money – M - O - N - E - Y

In 2014, a secular political activist organization or “LGBT equality”–the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)–launched the faith focused, “Project One America,” (POA). The “project” focused on three southern states: Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama. Though part of a larger broad “faith” focus, POA mainly directed their attention on evangelical denominations that do not affirm homosexuality and equality. Funding came for this project from an unannounced source, but totaled over 8.5 million dollars. In April, 2014, HRC brought this project to Birmingham and the state of Alabama. In this same effort, HRC organized and opened their politically focused operations with the Alabama State HRC chapter. Southern Baptist, PCA, and other conservative churches of note were targeted for infiltration, being “put to the test” for inclusion. HRC then went from these faith efforts with guaranteed meetings with ERLC and conservative Christian leadership, to the fall of that year being welcomed into the ERLC/Russell Moore conference spoken about previously. By 2017, HRC boasted that this Project One America budget for 2018 alone was over $26 million for one year. How much of that funding went into cooperating entities and individual efforts by hands inside evangelicalism is not known.

This article is taken from Thomas Littleton's chapter on LGBTQ issues within Christianity from the upcoming book Social Injustice. Thomas is one of 12 authors contributing to this project, each author taking a different topic within the issue of Social Justice. To pre-order Social Injustice, visit Use code THOMAS at checkout to get a free audiobook version of Social Injustice, with each chapter being read by the author.


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