This is the Reverend Sam Allberry and you may have noted that I recently posted an article that featured a conference Sam gave in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada a while ago which was recorded and I subsequently linked five of the videos for it. Sam is a priest within the Anglican Church of England who also happens to be homosexual, in that he is sexually and romantically attracted to men but he does not, nor has he ever, practised or acted upon his homosexual leanings. I personally watched all of the five videos and I thought that they were all Biblically sound. I also thought that they addressed an issue within the Christian Church that for far too long has often been short sighted and lacking in compassion and Biblical understanding.
Just to set the record straight, I will list some of Sam’s stated Biblical beliefs.
Sam does NOT recognize same sex marriage as a valid God ordained Biblical marriage.
Sam DOES recognize and acknowledge that practising homosexuality is a serious sin.
Sam DOES recognize and acknowledge that participating in homosexual sexual activities is sinful.
Sam ADVOCATES and personally follows sexual abstinence, for anyone who is homosexual.
For the last few days I’ve been doing some research and a lot of reading. If you think that the issues concerning homosexuality and the Christian Church are relatively straight forward, specifically as it pertains to the ministry of Sam Allberry, let me tell you, it isn’t necessarily so.
If I posted all the links to the various articles that I’ve read it would easily fill three of more pages. There are many links which are supportive and equally many that are not. I can’t list them all because there are just too many, but the short story is, there are definitely two different schools of thought on the validity of Sam’s ministry and there are, in my estimation, legitimate concerns that have been raised with regard to “recommended” guidance that has been provided to inquiring homosexuals on a couple of web sites that are associated with Sam Allberry. And, as in most complex issues, there are what I call “extreme” opinions that have been raised.
What I will do is provide you with a minimized overview on the positive and negative considerations.
Sam Allberry is a featured speaker for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.
One would think that the powers that be within the RZIM organization would have prayerfully and earnestly considered the Biblical ramifications of affiliating with Sam Allberry prior to doing so. That should in itself tell you that his ministry has been discerned as of value and important by those within the RZIM organization.
Sam Allberry is also a consulting editor for the Gospel Coalition
And then there is the Nashville Statement
The reasoning for the publication of the Nashville Statement is stated as follows:
“Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves…” –
The various affirmations and denials can be viewed by clicking on “Articles” at this link
Note in particular Articles VI, VIII, IX and XII
You may view the various scholars and clergy who have signed this list of articles (affirmations and denials) by clicking on “Signers”. More than 23,000 have signed so far, many of which are indeed noteworthy, including Sam Allberry.
It should be noted that there are numerous links that portray The Gospel Coalition as sliding down the slippery slope due to their accommodation of and affiliation with Sam Allberry. And when I say “sliding down the slippery slope” I am being kind. It’s not pretty.
I will provide a couple as examples:
The criticism that I did take to heart was authored by Tom Buck and there are at this point in time 4 posts and 1 follow up post wherein Tom Buck details his concern, all of which can be viewed by clicking on the following Link: https://www.aomin.org/aoblog/author/tom-buck/
Please note that you will have to scroll down to the bottom and work up from the bottom to the top to view all 4 articles and the concluding follow up article.
I am going to make some direct quotes from Tom Buck’s stated concerns which I feel are indeed revealing. These quotes are as follows:
Quote 1 from the 1st instalment of Tom’s critique “Living Out – Part One” : (please note that I have taken the liberty of highlighting some of Tom’s text in bold for emphasis):
“First, I share these things because I am broken over how the church has treated homosexuals in the past. I am thankful to see the shift that has taken place in churches to demonstrate love towards those struggling with homosexuality. A voice calling for a more biblical attitude is Sam Allberry who is the founding editor of Living Out and works with the ministries of TGC, ERLC, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries et al. As a Christian minister who is same-sex attracted, Allberry has quickly become the leading authority among evangelicals on the issue of homosexuality.
I read his book, Is God Anti-Gay?, several years ago and found it biblically sound. For example, he argues that someone who struggles with same-sex attraction should not be shunned by the church because the same Gospel that saved me has the power to save them. I heartily agree. He also declares that one’s identity is not rooted in his sin struggle and no Christian should label himself as “gay.” I give an enthusiastic, “Amen!” This is a good and biblical shift in thinking that needs to come to many in the evangelical world.
The second reason why I share my experience is because I also find some of the shifts taking place in the church regarding this issue to be for the worse and deeply troubling. I fear the pendulum has swung past the point of biblical balance. Some seem to be moving from maliciously condemning people struggling with homosexuality to shrinking from their responsibility to call them to full repentance from their sin. When it comes to the issue of homosexuality in our culture, we must not bash, but we dare not blush at calling them to authentic biblical repentance.
Quote 2 from the 2nd instalment of Tom’s critique “Living Out – Part Two: “Leading the way in this conversation has been Sam Allberry who is founding editor of Living Out. He is a pastor who identifies as a same-sex attracted person and has become a central voice in evangelicalism for the discussion of how the church should help those experiencing same-sex attraction. Major evangelical ministries (e.g. TGC, ERLC, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries) are giving him a platform to help the church better understand and address these issues. Much of what I have read or heard from Sam Allberry has been essentially sound and consistent with Scripture’s teaching. For this I am grateful.
However, I began to observe things coming from Sam Allberry’s ministry site, Living Out, that troubled me. When I contacted some trusted pastors who openly supported Living Out ministries, they encouraged me that Allberry and his ministry partners were committed to the same biblical principles regarding homosexuality that we were.”
Quote 3 from the 3rd instalment of Tom’s critique “Living Out – Part Three: “At first, I was thankful that they pointed me to my church leaders, but then I clicked on the link to True Freedom Trust, which they “heartily recommend.” The first article that caught my attention was one that dealt with loneliness and physical isolation for those experiencing same-sex attraction but still desired to remain celibate. Here is what I found when I read that article:
“Over many years of providing pastoral support at TFT, we’ve heard same-sex attracted Christians suggest a number of ways of meeting their longings for intimacy:
Quote 4 from the 4th instalment of Tom’s critique “Living Out – Part Four: “Living Out is giving real counsel to real people. Some of them are in our churches and are turning there for counsel because they trust those who are pointing them in that direction. If lives are at stake, we cannot take the answers offered by Living Out lightly. This is not a debate class exercise where we can afford to defend the wrong position in a sterilized classroom setting. Real people are going to follow our lead and many will end up shipwrecking their lives on the unbiblical counsel and bad theology offered at Living Out.
With the documented evidence that I have presented, I am issuing a call for immediate action to be taken. I am asking pastors to join me in calling upon our fellow evangelical leaders who are connecting themselves with Living Out to immediately take notice of what it is they are actually supporting. If they endorsed without doing due diligence, they should confess that they failed to “keep a close watch on the teaching,” repent, and publicly renounce these dangerous teachings.”
Quote 5 from the 5th instalment of Tom’s critique “Living Out – A Follow Up and Call to Further Action:“I was extremely grateful to hear both Sam Allberry’s clarifications and promise. Therefore, I thought the call for patience was prudent and followed that advice. In the meantime, Sam and I have had several private conversations about these issues and discussed them at an even deeper level from Scripture. I want to publicly express my gratitude for Sam’s humility and desire to be faithful to the truth to God’s Word. I believe I can say that he has become a friend, but more importantly I view him and treat him as a brother in Christ. This friendship has brought criticism from some, but I have no reason to consider Sam any less than a brother who is seeking to be faithful in his walk with God.”
Note: What I find interesting is that here we have a Christian man (Tom Buck) who has obviously spent hours upon hours checking into the Biblical validity of Sam’s ministry (which includes many hours of one on one conversations) and who considers him (Sam Allberry) his Christian brother, while at the same time we have other Christian resources such as Berean Research and On Solid Rock Resources using Tom Buck’s investigation (among many others) as validation for rejecting Sam’s ministry and labelling it as heresy. To say that this topic is indeed perplexing and difficult, is in my estimation, probably an understatement.
So there you have it. So far, everything that I have read that has been authored by Sam Allberry appears to be Biblically sound and he has repeatedly clarified points of contention time and time again. However, the observations that Tom Buck has make with regard to the recommendations provided to inquiring homosexuals on the indicated websites is obviously of great concern and without doubt needs to be corrected. One post I read was that Sam Allberry was disassociating himself from these websites that have been critiqued for unbiblical recommendations. Personally I don’t think that’s good enough. I think Sam has a valid and needed ministry but there are undoubtedly some dark corners and valid concerns that need cleaning up or to be rectified and whether they are cleaned up or rectified is not optional. They definitely do need to be addressed.
I also took a good hard look at the criticism that was laid out with regard to the difference between being tempted and actually committing a sin. As Jesus pointed out with regard to adultery, even if you have not committed the sin of adultery but have lusted after someone, that also is a sin. I believe, even with lust, there is a point of commitment wherein one actively enters into or goes with the lustful thought that comes from our mind. You have a choice, you can turn your eyes away or you can linger. Jesus was tempted by Satan but Jesus didn’t sin because he never entered into any of the temptations, He quickly closed the temptation by indicating God’s will. I don’t know about you but I know when I am being tempted. I actively make a choice to look away or take a second look or linger. If I deliberately turn my eyes away, I don’t think that is sinning but if I take a second look or linger per se, that is a decision I make and that indeed is sinning, which needs to be confessed and asked forgiveness for. I think the same logic applies to the homosexual. Am I successful every time I have temptation suddenly placed in my view, I’d like to tell you yes but we both know better. Most times yes, but not always. Sin is sin and lust is lust and it matters not if you are a heterosexual or a homosexual. As Christians, we’re all in the process of having our minds and hearts renewed but I haven’t reached perfection yet and I doubt that I ever will while in this body.
It seriously bothers me that we can so easily hammer out the iron clad boundaries for the homosexual but grant ourselves forgiveness because we’re not perfect yet. I just don’t think it works that way and if a homosexual is earnestly endeavouring to live her or his life in obedience to God, by being obedient with regard to God’s will with their sexuality and deliberately abstaining from sexual encounters or relationships with members of like gender, then I think we need to accept that individual as a brother or sister in Christ.
As the title for this post indicates, the verdict on this particular subject is still out for me but I can’t help but feel that God’s truth about this subject is somewhere in between the extremes I’m seeing as in “total inclusion” versus “total exclusion”.
Food for thought.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!