Ref Cast

Board of Trustees Retains Faculty Who Disagree with CRCNA on LGBTQ+ Relationships

Written by Abigail Ham, Hadassa Ribeiro, Ezra Craker, Katie Rosendale, and Savannah Shustack |
Thursday, November 17, 2022
Because Calvin is in a covenantal, ecclesiastical partnership with the denomination, that decision had implications for Calvin faculty, who are required to sign a covenant for faculty members in which they affirm, among other historical church documents, the Heidelberg Catechism. They are also required to pledge to “teach, speak, and write in harmony with the confessions,” according to the faculty handbook. For some faculty, Synod’s decision meant their affirmation of the confessions was now in conflict with their consciences when it came to LGBTQ+ issues.

Calvin’s board of trustees decided last Friday to approve the Professional Status Committee (PSC)’s recommendation to retain all faculty in the “pioneer cohort” — a group of faculty who were the first to file statements of confessional difficulty in response to decisions made at Synod in June. The statements were prompted by the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA)’s decision to elevate its stance on LGBTQ+ relationships to confessional status.
Synod, the CRCNA’s general assembly, voted to affirm that an interpretation of the Heidelberg Catechism used to justify the denomination’s stance against LGBTQ+ relationships had confessional status. For decades, that stance had been considered pastoral guidance, a much less firm designation.
Because Calvin is in a covenantal, ecclesiastical partnership with the denomination, that decision had implications for Calvin faculty, who are required to sign a covenant for faculty members in which they affirm, among other historical church documents, the Heidelberg Catechism. They are also required to pledge to “teach, speak, and write in harmony with the confessions,” according to the faculty handbook. For some faculty, Synod’s decision meant their affirmation of the confessions was now in conflict with their consciences when it came to LGBTQ+ issues.
Chimes granted faculty involved in the process anonymity due to the stakes of the situation and the sensitivity of the issue in the Calvin and broader CRCNA community.
Calvin’s faculty handbook encourages faculty who disagree with the denomination on a confessional issue to file a statement of confessional difficulty with the PSC. At a board of trustees meeting in July, administrators confirmed with the board that they were “all on the same page” about proceeding with the standard confessional difficulty process, according to Provost Noah Toly.

Toly told Chimes that this process has been the biggest part of his job since June.

A group of faculty began meeting during the summer for conversations about how the process might work. Toly guided these conversations. A group of faculty also met off-campus several times to discuss the issue, a faculty member said.
Around the beginning of the school year, a number of faculty decided to submit statements of confessional difficulty, also known as gravamina, to the PSC. About a dozen faculty filed gravamina, according to English and gender studies professor Linda Naranjo-Huebl, who was not among those who signed.
The PSC assesses gravamina and makes recommendations to the board regarding the involved faculty. The Calvin gravamen process for the pioneer cohort concluded at a board of trustees meeting on Oct. 28, in which the board affirmed the PSC’s recommendation to allow the pioneer cohort to continue to serve at the university within a set of expectations based upon Calvin’s existing policies on human sexuality and academic freedom. Those expectations apply to all faculty members, not just those who have gone through the gravamen process, Toly said.

“While we understand that not every member of the Calvin community will agree with every position or decision the University makes, our desire is that this be a place where even our disagreements are characterized by respect and love for one another,” Toly told faculty and staff in an Oct. 28 email. “I am hopeful that this process and outcome can serve as a model for our students and other observers as we continue to wrestle with important issues.”

According to Toly, the board found the PSC’s recommendations to be “respectful of the university’s covenantal partnership with the CRCNA, consistent with confessional commitment, congruent with existing policies and procedures, supportive of academic freedom and reflective of constructive engagement.”
To File or not to File
Naranjo-Huebl told Chimes her scholarship and personal convictions are “directly at odds” with Synod’s interpretation of the confessions as they apply to LGBTQ+ relationships. Naranjo-Huebl signed the denomination’s Covenant for Office Bearers 20 years ago, when LGBTQ+ relationships were not a confessional issue, so she believes leadership will need to take the initiative in redefining policy and issuing guidelines. She chose not to join the initial cohort of faculty signing a gravamen.
“Because I disagree that Synod has the authority to interpret the seventh commandment the way they have, I don’t intend to file a gravamen at this time,” Naranjo-Huebl said.
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Psalm 24 and the Aesthetic Fullness of the Earth and World (Part 2)

The Great Wave Off Kanagawa (1831), Katsushika Hokusai, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, New York

Featured in Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, this woodblock print captures the peril of three fishing boats tossed by a rogue wave in Sagami Bay, twenty-five miles southwest of Tokyo. In the year this painting appeared, 1831, another great outdoor painter, John James Audubon, traveled from England to New York to begin his work on Birds in America; Meanwhile, over in Europe, the Impressionist artists, Monet and Renoir were still children, but they would one day be influenced by Hokusai’s work.
There is much beauty in nature, but aestheticians have identified an experience that goes beyond savoring a sunset, delighting in a blanketing snowfall, or taking in the fall colors of New England. They speak of “the sublime,” that which is intimidatingly splendid. It’s kin to a word occurring five times Psalm 24:7-10—‘glory,’ as in “the King of glory.” The Hebrew word for ‘glory’ is kabod, a cognate of kebed (“heavy”); it connotes substance and heft, the sort of awesome presence that terrified Isaiah in his chapter six. Painfully aware of his deplorable weakness, the prophet feared being “crushed” by the sovereign holiness of God.
The eighteenth-century British philosopher and statesman Edmund Burke, in speaking of the sublime, identified it as “astonishment,” that is the “state of the soul, in which all its motions are suspended, with some degree of horror. In this case the mind is so entirely filled with its object, that it cannot entertain any other.” And, for illustration, he pointed to the ocean, which can be “an object of no small terror.” [1]
In his Critique of Judgment, Immanuel Kant supplied other examples of the sublime:

Bold, overhanging, and, as it were, threatening rocks, thunderclouds piled up the vault of heaven, borne along with flashes and peals, volcanoes in all their violence of destruction, hurricanes leaving desolation in their track, the boundless ocean rising with rebellious force, the high waterfall of some mighty river, and the like, make our power of resistance of trifling moment in comparison with their might.[2]

And so we’re pointed to the oceans, whose water covers around seventy per cent of the earth and whose dynamics are quite sublime, as Hokusai knew full well.
This painting hails from the Far East, in contrast with the other three, which are Western. I include it to underscore the gospel implications for lands unknown to (even unsuspected by) the Israelites in David’s day. Though Psalm 24 is Hebrew scripture delivered to God’s chosen people, its reach circles the globe. As Augustine observed of Psalm 24:1-2, “This is true, for the Lord, now glorified, is preached to all nations to bring them to faith, and the whole world thus becomes his church.” [3]
The Domes of the Yosemite (1867), Albert Bierstadt, The Athenaeum, St. Johnsbury, Vermont

Psalm 24:1-2 – 1The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. 2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
Bierstadt, an eighteenth-century German-American painter was remarkable for his glorious landscapes, as were other Americans of the Hudson River School—Frederick Church, Asher Durand, George Inness, Thomas Cole, Thomas Moran, and Thomas Cole.  Whether working in the Hudson Valley, the Sierra Nevadas, Yellowstone, or the Andes, these men astonished their viewers with breathtaking portrayals of God’s handiwork. Bierstadt introduced many to the Rockies, helped spur the conservation movement, and has been featured on two of America’s commemorative stamps.
This painting portrays California’s Yosemite Valley, granted protection under Abraham Lincoln in 1864 and designated a National Park in 1890. Though romanticized, Bierstadt’s rendering is nonetheless indicative of the grandeur of this site, a reality well chronicled in a series of black and white photographs by Ansel Adams, whose work is featured in a Yosemite Village gallery.
Psalm 24:2 encompasses the granite domes that define the valley, for it says the Lord founded the earth “on the seas and established it on the waters.” Well, certainly, Genesis 1 says that the waters were gathered so that the dry land would appear on the third day of creation, but young-earth creationists point beyond this to Psalm 104, where we read, in verses 5-8:

Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains. At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them. Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.

They read Noah’s Flood into this passage, for “turn not again [ever] to cover the earth” would not make sense if the psalmist were speaking only of the initial emergence of land. It would ignore the subsequent, universal immersion above the tallest mountains recounted in Genesis 7.
Beware of (and thank God for) Wadi Rum.
Worldview-wise, there are two big ways of seeing our surroundings. One is naturalistic/materialistic, regarding flora and fauna, hill and dale, you and me, as the product of chemical and physical laws at work on some sort of primordial stuff. On this model, it would take eons of dumb matter talking to itself (“dialectical materialism”), through hit or miss, to generate Handel’s Messiah. It’s hard to believe that folks would embrace such “seeing,” given its Rube Goldberg absurdity, but they soldier on, determined to keep God’s hands off the universe.
The other view regards the universe and all within as the handiwork of a multi-omni creator. Some have proffered various versions of the Anthropic Argument for God’s Existence, working from the wonderful correspondence of man’s needs to the Lord’s earthly provision, the way that the environment is marvelously attuned to our makeup, e.g., the right mix of the gases we breathe; the distance to the sun and tilt of the earth, giving us tolerable seasons. Of course, the Darwinists counter that it fits us since we fit it; if we didn’t, we’d be extinct. They venture a deflating analogy, that of the woman who marveled that God had caused great rivers—the Thames, Tiber, Seine, and Danube—to flow through the capitals of Europe.
This snappy dismissal of the wondrous correspondence between Creation and her creatures’ blessings does not bear up to scrutiny, and the aesthetic provisions of nature are particularly troublesome for the materialist. (Indeed, the problem cropped up early on, when eighteenth-century art critic John Ruskin pressed Charles Darwin to explain the glories of a peacock’s deployed fan.) Darwinian philosopher Denis Dutton gave it his best shot in The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution, when he played off a worldwide affinity for “blue landscapes” (with a stream winding its way through a verdant, populated valley).[4] He reasoned that this was the product of natural selection, in that creatures who migrated there more likely survived and procreated, and thus passed along their aesthetic wiring to progeny evolving through natural selection.
But this fails to explain our aesthetic appreciation for deadly settings, such as lightning storms, a cluster of icebergs, and desert regions, such as Wadi Rum in the south of Jordan, an extension of Israel’s Negev. In my experience, Wadi Rum is one of the most visually enchanting places on earth. Yet, the hot, red sands under a relentless sun can make even shoe-clad walking miserable, and the expanse of desolation, replete with shear granite outcroppings, would make one despair of survival if not for the air-conditioned tour bus standing nearby.
Filmmakers have used it in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Dune, and The Martian, whose star, Matt Damon, remarked, “I was in awe of that place . . . One of the most spectacular and beautiful places I have ever seen, and like nothing I’ve ever seen anywhere else on Earth.” [5]  But how could it be beautiful? What sort of survival-of-the-fittest story could one concoct to explain the development of an appetite for deadly landscapes?
I’m sure that Darwinians could come up with something. Actually, they have to do this, given their devotion to “methodological naturalism,” conveniently overlaying their metaphysical materialism.  (Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin wrote that, no matter how contrived the scientific theories might seem, they had to stick with purely material accounts, lest a disruptive “divine foot” find its way in the doorway.) [6] Besides, nothing is foolproof since fools are so ingenious. Perhaps they can argue that the terrain is so awful that it’s a good place to hide out and have kids since no one wants to bother you there. Well, “Whatever,” and “Knock yourself out.” But far better to say that the “fullness thereof” includes not just the nutritional, hospitable, and industrially harnessable, but also the aesthetical, thanks to God’s astonishing kindness to the world’s inhabitants, to “those who dwell therein.”

[1] Edmund Burke, “Of the Passion Caused by the Sublime,” A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, Harvard Classics, Volume 24, Part 2 (New York, P. F. Collier and Son, 1909-1914), Part II, Section 1. Accessed January 5, 2020 at
[2] Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment (New York: Hafner, 1968), 100-101.
[3] Augustine, Exposition of the Psalms 24:2, quoted in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Old Testament VII, Psalms 1-50, edited by Craig A. Blaising and Carmen S. Hardin, Thomas C. Oden, general editor (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 2008), 185
[4] Denis Dutton, The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution (New York: Bloomsbury, 2009), 14­­–15.
[5] “Ridley Scott and Matt Damon on Going to Jordan to Recreate Mars.” Yahoo! Entertainment (September 29, 2015).
[6] See Richard Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons,” a review of Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, New York Review of Books (January 9, 1997). This quote was discovered by Philip Johnson and given widespread attention in his book, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 81.

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La Alianza Endorsement for SBC22

La Alianza is a collaboration of Hispanic Southern Baptist leaders throughout the United States. The following open letter came unsolicited and is posted here at their request.
La Alianza is a group of Hispanic leaders from different states that have been meeting for the last months with the purpose of supporting each other through the ministry of prayer, preaching, and the theological proclamation of the truths of the Word of God.
As pastors and messengers at the upcoming annual meeting in Anaheim California, we are pleased to announce our endorsement of Dr. Tom Ascol for President of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Voddie Baucham for President of the SBC Pastor’s Conference, and Dr. Javier Chavez for SBC Recording-Secretary.
The men mentioned above are known for their leadership profile, their spirit of service, and their strong convictions to see a unified convention centered around the Gospel.
As Southern Baptists we are all about the Great Commission, our adherence to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, and the unity of our convention across all languages and ethnicities.
Jaime LoayzaIglesia Gracia Internacional (MS)
Joel SalazarIglesia Biblica Ciudad de Gracia (AZ)
Omar Reynoso HenriquezMisión Bautista (NH)
Javier EsquivelIglesia Bautista Castillo Fuerte (MA)
Gilmer MauricioIglesia Bautista Restauracion Familiar (IA)
Marin LeyvaIglesia Woodlawn (WA)
Yonathan MorisGrace Community Church (TX)
Marino MartinezPrimera Iglesia Bautista Hispana Tallahassee (FL)
Carlos MaysonetIglesia Hispana Bautista Raham (FL)
Luis LeonIglesia Hispana Bautista Raham (FL)
Johnny RodriguezNorth Florida BC Hispanic (FL)
Josh ChavezAmistad Cristiana International (GA)
Rodrigo TexmayéIglesia Bautista Shalom (GA)
Raudel SantiagoIglesia Bautista Esperanza (GA)
Edgar MontañoIglesia Nueva Esperanza (GA)
Wilmer MarinComunidad Cristiana Internacional (GA)
Santos CastilloTabernaculo Bautista Emanuel (GA)
Hector NavarretePrimera Iglesia Bautista Hispana Rome (GA)
Jose VeraIglesia Biblica Reformada Rey de Gloria (GA)
Jose Luis EscobarIglesia Bautista Dulce Refugio (GA)
Marcos TelloIglesia Bautista Nueva Vida (GA)
Andres RodriguezHispanic Ministry Mt. Zion Baptist Church (GA)
Jaime CastañedaIglesia Bautista Luz y Vida (GA)
Ruben HernandezPrimera Iglesia Bautista Hispana de Jefferson (GA)
Martin RodriguezMinisterio Conexión (GA)

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Statement from Southern Baptists Nominating Tom Ascol and Voddie Baucham

This a statement from Southern Baptists nominating Tom Ascol and Voddie Baucham

We, concerned Southern Baptists of differing geographical, theological and vocational perspectives, in one voice nominate Pastor Tom Ascol for President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and SBC Missionary Voddie Baucham for President of the SBC Pastors’ Conference.
The Southern Baptist Convention plays a vital role in global Christianity, with the world’s largest missionary force and 11% of America’s churches. But perhaps even more importantly, through our six seminaries, we educate one third of America’s seminary students. Our institutions affect vastly more than just ourselves.
But the Southern Baptist Convention badly needs a change of direction. While baptisms and evangelism continue their freefall, a small group of leaders steers our institutions ever closer to the culture, from radical feminism masked as “soft complementarianism” to the false gospel of Critical Theory and Intersectionality. In Christ there is no Jew or Greek, there is no slave or free, we are all made one in Him. But this “Race Marxism” divides everyone by their most superficial features, in a never-ending cycle of recrimination and hate.
We reject these worldly dogmas. We stand together on the Baptist Faith and Message. We proclaim the sufficiency of Scripture. And we know the vast majority of Southern Baptists do too.
At this critical juncture, we need men to serve who can unite our convention around the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We believe there are no two better men to lead us in this vital task than Tom Ascol and Voddie Baucham.
For many years, Tom Ascol has been a faithful conservative voice in the SBC. The grandson of a Syrian Muslim immigrant who was murdered in the South in the 1920s, Tom Ascol has seen the grace of God at work in his family, and savingly in his own life. He believes the Gospel is the sole answer to the challenges we currently face as Southern Baptists.
Likewise, Voddie Baucham is one of the most faithful expositors of our day, a day in which sound preaching is more important than ever. He will give the exact kind of leadership needed for the SBC Pastors’ Conference, an event which in recent years has shifted radically from one of the high points of the entire year into what many have termed “Woke Fest”. The importance of restoring that pivotal event cannot be overstated.
We’ve been told “the world is watching”, and so it is, demanding that the church conform. But we believe that God is watching, that He alone defines our terms and sets our agenda.
And God is not Woke.
The Baptist in the pew isn’t either. But that won’t mean anything if we don’t show up, and vote.
So come to the Annual Meeting in Anaheim this June. We’re asking you to stand in this crucial hour, for the SBC, and for Tom Ascol and Voddie Baucham. Help us change the direction, and return the SBC to a firm commitment to the sufficiency of Scripture.

Dr. Lee Brand
First Vice President
The Southern Baptist Convention

Dr. Tom Buck
Senior Pastor, FBC Lindale, Texas
Board Member, G3 Ministries

Dr. Javier Chavez
Senior Pastor, Amistad Cristiana International
Former Missionary to Peru

Kelvin Cochran
Vice President, Alliance Defending Freedom
Former Atlanta Fire Chief

Dr. Mark Coppenger
Former President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Retired Professor, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Greg Davidson
Senior Pastor, Trinity Baptist Church
Vacaville, California

Dr. Mark DeVine
Associate Professor, Beeson Divinity School
Former Missionary to Thailand

Dr. Brad Jurkovich
Senior Pastor, First Bossier
Bossier City, Louisiana

Ronnie Rogers
Senior Pastor, Trinity Baptist, Norman, Oklahoma
Former Chairman, SBC Nominating Committee

Mike Stone
Senior Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist, Blackshear, Georgia
Former Chairman, SBC Executive Committee
Former President, Georgia Baptist Convention

Dr. Carol Swain
Former Professor of Political Science and Law
Vanderbilt University

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The Aquila Report

The Aquila Report
Your independent source for news and commentary from and about conservative, orthodox evangelicals in the Reformed and Presbyterian family of churches
Fri, 12 Nov 2021 23:17:24 +0000



Using God

Sat, 13 Nov 2021 05:04:43 +0000

When our own desires and whims are elevated over God and his glory–the very essence of sinful pride–God is necessarily diminished in our estimation. When this happens, our own skewed self-estimation replaces the uncomfortable truth we seek to evade–that God is great and we are not.   It has been said that pride is the… Continue Reading
The post Using God appeared first on The Aquila Report.
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When our own desires and whims are elevated over God and his glory–the very essence of sinful pride–God is necessarily diminished in our estimation. When this happens, our own skewed self-estimation replaces the uncomfortable truth we seek to evade–that God is great and we are not.

It has been said that pride is the oldest sin in the universe and that it shows no signs of growing weaker with age. Pride is the overestimation of our own worth and the inevitable tendency to exaggerate our own accomplishments. If the Bible is clear about anything, it is that ours is a fallen race and that human pride is the inevitable consequence of the fall. God warned the people of Israel to exercise great care in this regard, “lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery . . . . Beware lest you say in your heart, `My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’” In Romans 1:22, Paul speaks of human pride in these terms; “Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” Because of sin, we suppress the fact that God is the source of all that we have. We see ourselves as far more important than we are. We act as though all of life rises and sets upon our own shadow. Therefore, we are constantly tempted to use God to suit our own sinful ends.
Perhaps it might help to frame the matter like this. When we become great in our own eyes, our estimation of God and his purposes is necessarily diminished. Like two people sitting on opposite ends of a playground teeter-totter, when the person sitting on one end goes up, the other person goes down. The same applies to our estimation of God. When our own desires and whims are elevated over God and his glory–the very essence of sinful pride–God is necessarily diminished in our estimation. When this happens, our own skewed self-estimation replaces the uncomfortable truth we seek to evade–that God is great and we are not.
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Covid, Coercion, and Children

Change at Founders Ministries

Founders Ministries announces the resignation of Jared Longshore from the staff and board of the ministry. He served since 2017 as Vice President of Founders and was a part of the launch of the Institute of Public Theology in January of this year.
“Jared has been a great friend and brother and I am grateful for his service over these last several years,” President Tom Ascol said. “God has used him to encourage many through the work of Founders. We will miss him and pray for God’s guidance and blessing as he enters a new chapter of his life and work.”
Dr. Ascol also expressed his excitement about the many initiatives that are ahead for Founders. “We have some excellent new titles in the pipeline for publication by Founders Press as well as an outstanding line up of preachers for the 2022 Founders Conference on ‘Militant and Triumphant: The Doctrine of the Church.’ I am especially delighted to announce that Dr. Tom Buck will be joining Voddie Baucham, James Coates, Travis Allen, Conrad Mbewe, and me to address this urgently relevant theme exegetically, theologically, and practically.” There is still time to register for the conference, though space is limited.
Dr. Baucham, a Founding Faculty Member of the Institute of Public Theology and Founders Ministries board member said, “Jared Longshore is a dear friend, brother, and co-laborer. His contribution to the work of Founders Ministries and IOPT has been invaluable and we wish him well in the next phase of his journey.”
Dr. Baucham will be teaching a course at IOPT in January 2022. You can learn more about his class and register by accessing the IOPT website.

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Let the Lion Out (Part 1 of 2)

We live in a confusing time. Even within the church, many aren’t sure who or what to believe or how to behave. When the early church faced similar issues, Paul reminded Timothy of a truth he shouldn’t forget. Hear more on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


WWUTT 1509 The Path of Life Leads Upward (Proverbs 15:21-33)

Reading Proverbs 15:21-33 and seeing how the path of life is a level highway leading upward and away from Sheol beneath. Visit for all our videos!

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