A case study in decline

There is nothing more important to the vitality of a movement than it's commitment to its core beliefs. Dynamic movements hold both orthodoxy (core beliefs) and engagement with the culture in creative tension.

About a year ago my denomination (Baptist Union of Victoria) reappointed its New Testament professor, Dr Keith Dyer. The appointment was supported by the denominational leadership and theological college and affirmed by a two-thirds majority of a BUV Assembly of ministers and church representatives.

Historically, the BUV has been an evangelical denomination with a conservative statement of faith that upholds the supremacy of scripture.

Keith's reappointment, despite his teaching on sexuality, says a lot about the state the BUV is in.

In an unusual interpretation of Genesis 1:27 Keith Dyer argues that God created humanity, male and female not male or female. Therefore, humanity, made in the image of God, is a continuum stretching from male to female and everything in between. This view of human sexuality, he claims, was reaffirmed by both Jesus and Paul.

For Keith, these are issues of justice and righteousness. Therefore he supports the marriage of homosexuals and their right to child adoption.

Keith responds to those who appeal to the “plain sense of Scripture” that they are in danger of reducing God's Living Word to a book of dead letters and laws. "For the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Cor 3:6)."

Keith states that the affirmation of the 'homosexual', the 'intersexual' and the 'transsexual' is needed to awaken the church to its full glory as the body of Christ.

I’ve written a response to Keith’s teaching. My concern here is what this case study can teach us about the decline of a denomination and how to prevent it. More on that later.

Here's the full text of Keith's article: A Consistent Biblical approach to (homo)sexuality