WHILE ACCUSING CONCERNED CHRISTIANS OF LIES, SLANDER AND HURTING THE REPUTATION OF COVENANT THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY -MARK DALBEY IGNORES SCOTT SAULS AND MIKE HIGGINS ROLES IN REVOICE.
Rev Thomas Littleton 3/14/2019
Covenant Theological Seminary President Mark Dalbey is attempting some damage control after criticism lingers from CTS ties to and staff involvement in the controversial Revoice 2018 event in St Louis last year. Whether or not his current effort to respond resonates with critics may depend more on what he is not saying than what is being said.
A recent article by Owen Strachan attempts to promote the Dalbey response in the best possible light.
Strachan opens his article with this positive tone, “ In a major and heartening announcement, Covenant Theological Seminary President Mark Dalbey just announced that no faculty members would participate in the 2019 Revoice Conference. “
Dalby’s announcement can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=tVvghdAgE9s
In the video response Dalbey admits he is answering concerns about CTS commitment to Biblical sexual ethics which have resulted from Revoice 2018 involvement. Dalbey affirms traditional -one man one woman -biblical marriage and that sexuality is to be expressed only within this biblical model of marriage .
Regarding homosexuality, Dalbey affirms, “Homosexual desire is a result of the fall; it’s a sinful desire that is to be mortified and resisted and in no way dignified. … homosexual lust and homosexual intimate behavior is sin and condemned by God….Covenant Seminary does not teach that a person should identify as a “gay Christian.” Covenant Seminary will not have any of our faculty speaking at the 2019 Revoice Conference.”
DALBEY DISCLAIMER ON REVOICE CONFERENCE
Dr. Dalbey then asserts that CTS does not endorse or have a role in the Revoice Conference. “We do not agree with all the views of the Revoice Conference.” Dalbey does fail to condemn the Revoice movement which is now in its second year .
Dalbey then attempts to offer specific denials for CTS. “Covenant Seminary does not advocate for Queer Theology. CTS does not teach that a person should identify as a gay Christian. And CTS will not have any of our faculty teaching at the 2019 Revoice Conference.” At this point a couple of questions are appropriate and perhaps only Dr. Dalbey can answer them.
CTS NASHVILLE EXTENSION CLASSES LEADER SCOTT SAULS HELPED MENTOR REVOICE FOUNDING IN WINTER OF 2018 AND CTS PROFESSOR MIKE HIGGINS HOSTED THE PRE-CONFERENCE IN HIS SOUTH CITY CHURCH.
According to multiple internet sources and PCA’s By Faith Magazine (announced in 2015) the Nashville extension classes of CTS are held at Scott Sauls’ Christ Presbyterian (PCA) church in Nashville TN. https://byfaithonline.com/covenant-seminary-to-offer-classes-in-nashville/. “Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville will host the initial classes, with St. Louis professors as primary teachers and Nashville adjuncts such as Dr. Scotty Smith also teaching classes.” In this By Faith report,”Mark Dalbey, Covenant Seminary president, said Nashville is home to a concentrated number of Covenant Seminary alumni who are serving their communities in vocational ministry or other capacities. For years these alumni have been asking Covenant to offer classes in Nashville.” Sauls points out the growth and cultural center Nashville has become. In a video released on Covenant Seminary’s Facebook page, Nashville pastor Scott Sauls said, “Nashville is undergoing a very significant transformation as a city. It’s becoming less and less Bible Belt and more and more Athens of the South.” https://www.covenantseminary.edu/nashville/
DALBYS OTHER UNADDRESSED REVOICE CTS CONNECTION
According to the Revoice review of the 2018 event a second PCA church was involved in hosting the 2018 Revoice events and its pastor is a CTS professor and Dean of Students.
“Mike and Renee Higgins came to South City Church in 2012. Mike attended Covenant Seminary earned his MDiv in 1996 and served as a PCA pastor in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Atlanta, Georgia before returning to Covenant Seminary as Dean of Students in 2011.”
Higgins South City Church became embroiled in a controversy of their own last Fall in its attempts to host a transgendered speaker in the 2018 Reclaim MLK event. https://thirtypiecesofsilver.org/2019/01/15/are-pca-pastor-and-daughter-teaching-the-transgender-two-step/.
Faith For Justice Co-founder is Michelle Higgins is pastor Mike Higgins daughter, South City Church Worship/ Children’s ministry leader, and a CTS graduate .
“Michelle Higgins, Director of Worship
“Michelle Higgins has been a choir director, event coordinator, youth ministry director, gospel-funk lyricist and lead singer. Michelle was born in St. Louis and has lived near Fairgrounds Park, Forest Park, Benton Park and Tower Grove Park. She currently serves the African American Leadership Development Conference of Saint Louis.”
“Michelle has deep roots in the African American pentecostal tradition, but her ambition is to encourage and participate in blended worship with all the nations. Michelle holds an M.Div from Covenant Theological Seminary.”
IS THE ANGRY DALBY IS ONLY COMING HALF CLEAN?
President Dalbey is not revealing or speaking to concerns about the role CTS Nashville extension host pastor Scott Sauls has played in Revoice 2018 but only speaks to Professor Dr. Jay Skylar’s treatment of Leviticus 18 in his lecture at Revoice. Dalbey has also never addressed Mike Higgins/South City Church role in hosting the Revoice Pre-Conference. Covenant Theological Seminary has far more significant involvement in and ties to Revoice than perhaps President Dalby is aware or at least is willing to admit.
WHY CAN’T THEY CONDEMN REVOICE -EVEN NOW?
Given the radical agenda, language, and workshops announced months BEFORE Revoice 2018 -why were CTS professor’s part of the 2018 event? Why is that now a problem if it was not a problem last year? Is it a problem now because the event became controversial enough for Dr. Dalbey to be forced to respond at the PCA General Assembly last June and the controversy lingers today? If CTS is not advocating for Queer Theology – what about Queer Theory, Gender Theory and Feminine Theory? Are they being taught at CTS? If not, where did 7 of the 2018 Revoice speakers with close ties to and /or recent graduates of CTS develop their use of such theories and the Revoice ideology?
MAKE IT ALL PUBLIC
Can Dr. Dalbey make these Revoice CTS graduates academic records public? If no, deeper connection to CTS exist-why was the event held in St Louis in a PCA church? The Revoice conference embodies and contains the controversial LGBT+ narrative which is developed under such theories as mentioned above and DID have multiple CTS trained young people who DO identify as “Gay /LGBT Christian” speaking and providing leadership to the Revoice movement. Can rightly concerned PCA and biblically conservative people see what is being taught to their children, grandchildren and future church ministry leaders at CTS?
DALBEY DENIES WHAT CTS/ HE HAVE NOT BEEN ACCUSED OF
No one expressing concerns over Revoice have actually said that the conference was proclaiming “Queer Theology” . However the event and some of its workshops stopped just short of it. Still no case has been made that Revoice or CTS is promoting “Queer Theology.” The controversial theories were fully engaged in the narrative and the movements behind Revoice process of social change. Addressing an accusation that was not made appears like a “straw man” argument.
DALBEY GOES ON THE ATTACK
“Much of what is being said about CTS is sinful, slanderous and a violation of the 9th commandment.” Dalbey goes on to point fingers at CTS critics for, in his view, hurting the good name of CTS by these ”slanderous attacks”. According to Dalby CTS teaches its students how to act toward people who are homosexuals. Note this language reinforces sexual identity and is not in keeping with biblical /sin view. Does Dr. Dalbey believe in Sexual Orientation which is the core problem at the root of the Revoice controversy He has not chosen his words very wisely here and adds to confusion later. Dr. Dalbey goes on to say CTS teaches their students to be committed to “Biblical Sexual Ethic” however – Revoice does not use the word Biblical but instead asserts they are “committed to Christian Sexual Ethic.” Revoice founder Nate Collins clarifies this as an extra -biblical position “because the bible writers do not know about Sexual Orientation.” Again where is Dr. Dalbey on the issue of orientation?
The view expressed by Revoice 2018 multiple (recent) CTS graduates concerning their adherence to the broader “Christian sexual ethic” was lampooned at the opening session of the 2018 event as that terminology was made the object humor and mutual disdain. Comments on the Christian sexual ethic language included “that’s something we are not very good at” and “what are we talking about -the sexual ethic of King David?” If the dance around terminology does not look good on CTS graduates- it looks far worse when the CTS President is waltzing with words and adding more confusion to an already disturbing set of concerns.
REVOICING EVANGELISM WAS NOT THE REVOICE GOAL
Dalbey spends a good deal of time covering the issue of evangelism related to CTS and what it teaches its students about relating to “those in the gay lifestyle” however – the Revoice concerns are not about how CTS students or graduates relate to those around them in evangelistic /outreach capacities. Revoice Conference stated purpose is “to promote LGBT+ Flourishing in historic Christian tradition.” That is, to promote acceptance of LGBT+ people and identities -radical as they may choose to be- inside the church. Where is Dalbey going with this evangelistic narrative if not diverting from the real goal of Revoice? That goal is not evangelism but is to bring social change in the church.
Dalbey says “our churches are to be promoting this” kind of evangelism yet the Revoice Conference aim and target audience is not the needy lost world around the church -but the church itself. Dalbey may have given himself away by the use of the modern mantra of compromise when urging that we should follow his and CTS evangelistic example and learn to “in winsome ways” reach out to homosexuals. This sounds as if CTS / Dalbey have become devoted Russell Moore followers. Winsome – since 2014 – is the inclusion .
TEMPTATION NOT ORIENTATION
Dr. Dalbey hits one key point -that of temptation -very strongly and lands on the historic/ Biblical side of it when he describes the kind of outreach that CTS teaches their students toward other believers and LGBT. Dalbey uses the biblical perspective on homosexual desires experienced by Christians as “temptation” which is totally counter to the views surrounding the case for sexual orientation. But now he has confused anyone who is listening closely. Is CTS teaching the sexual orientation views of Mark Yarhouse and other Christian counselors and psychologist? Does CTS subscribe to the unbiblical / interfaith /APA view validating “sexual orientation” reflected in CTS recent graduates who appear as Revoice 2018 speakers? Dr Dalbey and CTS cannot have it both ways. Which is it, temptation or orientation?
Next up in the video,the lines get very blurry. Dalbey asserts the church should welcome those with same sex attraction “temptations” as full members and into positions of ministry and “service.” Perhaps he is speaking of CTS graduates who his institution is training for ministry. Is CTS teaching those strugglers that they face orientation temptation? If so, then it may be CTS that is the author of their confusion. So again Dr. Dalbey which is it temptation or orientation? His CTS graduates involved in Revoice have been taught the latter. Where did they learn it?
CONFUSION TURNS TO ACCUSATION
Dr Dalbey then implies the need for a Biblical approach to correcting a brother or sister in error, but fails to address how this private Galatians 6 approach fits the Revoice events public efforts to change the church. It is now quite common for Christian leaders who are caught in uncomfortable positions as Dalbey to inject such verses like Gal. 6 and Matthew 18 to correct those who express concerns, reversing the blame of who is in error. This appears to work well no matter how scarce the Biblical application to the situation may actually be. It is often intended to trigger a guilt response and shut down the opposition and contain public exposure over a public sin and concern like Revoice. Dr. Dalbey should know better than to make such misapplication of these verses. Hopefully, he can see the error of context and application upon closer examination of undisclosed facts.
Dalbey insist the lies “must stop “ and urges concerned believers (presumably parents of CTS students or alumni ) to call CTS and to Call him and have some nice conversations.
A BETTER PLAN OF ACTION
It is possible that the easier more believable way to make public all of the current CTS CURRICULUM and academic papers which determine policy on LGBT+ at Covenant. Release all of the materials and required reading list for students in the counseling and psychology departments at CTS. Release, make public all of the academic papers, thesis and dissertations of Revoice speakers who are CTS graduates.
Speak to the 2017 Missouri Presbytery overhaul of its position on homosexuality, its embrace of Yarhouse/ Orientation which, in many ways , paved the way for Revoice. Speak to the roles CTS and it’s professors were involved in that 300 plus page document.
Dr. Dalbey can speak to First Light ministries ties to Revoice and to it’s PCA host church -the potential /looming / lacking objectivity -coverup of the “investigation” into Memorial Presbyterian Church and its pastor Revoice speaker Greg Johnson. Please speak to T E Ron Lutjens involvement with both First Light ministries and the Investigation into Revoice and to your wife Beth’s long time work with First Light where several key Revoice management also work. https://www.theaquilareport.com/is-revoice-lgbt-thriving-through-cover-up-in-pca-missouri-presbytery/
Please speak more fully to the recent controversy regarding a radical Transgender activist MLK themed event and CTS ties to it -including it’s speakers claims that “Jesus was Trans-gendered.”
Speak to Scott Sauls Role with CTS/ Nashville which is housed from its inception in Sauls PCA church in Nashville. Also, speak to his open mentorship role with Revoice founding and promotion of the 2018 event. Is Sauls still involved with Covenant Nashville and with Revoice 2019?
Before jumping into accusation that CTS has been lied about- slandered and in some way mistreated- first open the curriculum – open the records and a by all means address these unanswered concerns.
ABOVE ALL -CONSIDER THAT THE SACRED TRUST CTS IS GIVEN COMES WITH ACCOUNTABILITY
Dr. Dalbey seems unaware that conservative Christian believers have given Covenant Theological Seminary and his staff and faculty a sacred trust- actually layers of sacred trust. They send to you our most precious gifts from almighty God- our children and grandchildren. They entrust their hearts and minds to CTS and all conservative institutions like CTS to be godly shepherds and assume the task of helping disciple the next generation of church leaders- statesmen – pastors- missionaries – youth workers – and community leaders. Responding in in half- truths or calculated shielded comments which serve to confuse the issues is not helpful. Don’t point a bony finger of accusation when people are alarmed at something as radical and disturbing as Revoice. To then play the role of victim when admittedly your own people have already been involved in the controversy is unbecoming to say the least. Thank you for drawing some line in the sand somewhere,even though it is almost a year late. Stil , Dr. Dalbey, clarify -does this signal a correction of the larger problems and infiltration of CTS? Stop accusing those concerned of “Sowing discord.” Please give the kind of leadership to correcting this acknowledged error that you are attempting to persuade us that you have given.
Please Dr Dalbey faithfully keep these verses in true context and apply them only in light of the full set of facts.
There is never a need to calculate an honest response.
Galatians 6:1 “Brethren, if a man is [a]overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”
Matthew 18:15-17 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”
Exodus 20:16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”