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Friday, June 21, 2013

Following Apology to Gay Community, Exodus International Announces It Will Close Its Doors

Exodus International, "the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality," announced late Wednesday, 19 June, that it is closing its doors. The announcement came just hours after the group's president, Alan Chambers, issued a formal apology to members of the LGBTQ community who "have been hurt by Exodus International through an experience or by a message."

The formal press release states that, "The Board of Directors reached a decision after a year of dialogue and prayer about the organization’s place in a changing culture." It continues with this quote from Chambers:
From a Judeo-Christian perspective, gay, straight or otherwise, we’re all prodigal sons and daughters. Exodus International is the prodigal’s older brother, trying to impose its will on God’s promises, and make judgments on who’s worthy of His Kingdom. God is calling us to be the Father – to welcome everyone, to love unhindered. (Source)
Professing Christians of both a conservative and liberal stripe have already taken to social media to comment on these developments. Not surprisingly, Emerging Church leader Tony Jones wrote on his blog, "Honestly, the closing of EI [Exodus International] is a huge step in the direction of love and acceptance in the evangelical community."

This is contrasted with the comments of conservative Christian radio host Janet Mefferd from her Facebook page, who rightly calls for Chambers to apologize once again, this time to God Himself:
Bottom line: When you deny the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, there's no longer a reason for you to have a ministry. But what a tragedy to see what has been done to Exodus, which for many years saw so many people come to Jesus Christ and leave the homosexual lifestyle behind. Alan Chambers owes an apology, first of all, to God. Then, he owes an apology to every Christian who HAS come out of the gay lifestyle, by the grace of God. Then he should apologize to every God-fearing Christian who ever gave money to Exodus in good faith. Matthew 7:18-20 

(Source)
The statement issued by Exodus International continues by announcing that it will begin a new, separate ministry.
“This is a new season of ministry, to a new generation,” said Chambers. “Our goals are to reduce fear (reducefear.org), and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.” (Source)
In an interview with The Atlantic following the announcement that Exodus would be shutting down, Chambers was asked who he might like to engage in further conversation now that these changes are taking place. He responded,
There are a lot. Rachel Held Evans, who I think has done a fabulous job of loving gay people. Any number of pastors and leaders, whether they're on one side of the discussion or another. Gay and lesbian leaders would be amazing to sit down at the table with. Bishop Gene Robinson and others who are out to promote the common good. There are dozens of people I could think of if my brain weren't fried at this moment. (Source)
In that same interview, Chambers was asked his thoughts about those who say that being a "gay Christian" is an oxymoron, to which Chambers replied,
When anyone has a relationship with Jesus Christ, they are Christian. They are Christ followers. They are believers. They are sons and daughters, joint heirs, irrespective of any other situation or reality, sexual or otherwise. Who is anyone to say that another person can't know Christ? That's not a biblical message. (Source)
What Chambers fails to note here is that all people, Christian or not, already have a "relationship with Jesus Christ." Those who have repented of their sin and trusted in Christ alone for salvation are new creatures, redeemed by the blood of their Savior. Those living in ongoing, unrepentant sin who have not submitted to and placed their faith in Christ have a very different relationship with Him—they are His enemies and they abide under His wrath.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36)
What, then, is the true biblical message of how a man can know Christ?
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Luke 24:45–47)
Forgiveness of sins—all sins—is available to those who come to God in repentance, humility and faith in Christ alone. And when God saves that broken and repentant sinner, the old life of sin is buried, and that man becomes a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17).
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:9–11)
Alan Chambers will appear with Lisa Ling in an Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) special, “God and Gays,” tonight, 20 June. He will gather with and be confronted by “a group of survivors of the condemned and damaging practice of ‘reparative therapy.’” No doubt many will be watching to try to discern precisely what it is Chambers now believes about the sin of homosexuality.

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